Energy - Environment - Mobility

The circular economy to support a more sustainable mobility

Published on 20 May 2021 Read 25 min

The mobility sector, second biggest greenhouse gas producer behind energy and electricity production, is implementing concrete actions to tackle current environmental issues. Despite the transition to a green electric mobility, the circular economy model should be integrated throughout the whole production and life cycle of current means of transportation. How does this model apply to the mobility sector? What are the most striking projects developed in sustainable mobility in the past years in France?

The recycling and reuse of materials applied to mobility

The integration of the circular economy in mobility starts mainly with the recycling and reuse of materials from used vehicles. Michelin’s Black Cycle project or the buy-out of Amanhã Global by PSA are perfect examples.

The company Michelin created the entity BlackCycle comprised of seven industrial partners, five research and technology organizations et one innovation cluster, in order to set the tire at the core of a circular approach. It aims at wasting the least resources possible and at limiting the environmental impact of a whole sector, from used tires to secondary raw materials. The goal in Europe in the next five to six years is to reuse 50% of used pneumatics in the manufacture of new ones.

For his part, the group PSA is seeking to triple its sales revenue linked to circular economy, notably thanks to Amanhã Global, a Portuguese company specialized in reused parts present in over fifteen countries.

This approach is also integrated to the development of the Belgium start-up Sumy, which adopts a zero-waste policy though the promotion, sale and maintenance of recycled and reusable containers.

Moving towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

The reuse of materials emerges from a more global ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which remains the major target for large corporations today. Michelin states that its project BlackCycle lowers the emissions of CO2 per kilogram of used tire by 0.93kg, and the use of fossils resources per kilogram of used tyre by 0.89kg.

This goal also triggers the interest of emerging companies such as Sumy which developed an ecological and sustainable short circuit platform. The start-up created a goods transport service with ecological commercial vehicles that work with natural gas and are less noisy and more environment friendly: they emit 39% CO2 and 95% carcinogenic fine particules less than gasoline engines.

Finally, the number of electric vehicles is estimated to 100 million by 2030. This transition to an electric mobility raises new issues in the management of produced and used batteries. In march 2021, the group Renault joined a consortium created in 2020 between Veolia, a major player in optimized resource management, and Solvay, an expert in advanced materials and specialty chemicals, in order to develop a circular ecosystem for metals (such as cobalt, nickel and lithium) extracted from electric batteries in Europe. The process includes the collection of batteries, their dismantling and the chemical extraction and purification of metals. This partnership should render possible the pooling of the players’ expertise in order to insure the reuse of metals in the manufacture of new batteries.

Those innovations and projects participate to the development of a circular vision of the production and use of current and future means of transportation. If you wish to put the circular economy at the center of your innovation strategy, Alcimed is ready to support you!

About the author,
Joséphine, Consultant in Alcimed’s Energy, Environnement & Mobility team in France

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