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3 sustainability lessons from the automotive industry

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

From the creation of the SAQ Tool to assess potential sustainability issues in the supply chain to the localisation of its global approach to solve country-specific issues, the collaborative platform Drive Sustainability is minimising the impact of the automotive industry on the environment, while improving the social conditions of its workers.


With complex value-chains and a deep structured supplier base, the automotive industry is facing the issue of how to embed sustainability into company procurement processes throughout the industry. Positive results are coming from Drive Sustainability, the leadership automotive partnership led by CSR Europe. In its the first progress report, the collaborative platform is offering 3 lessons on how automotive manufacturers can enhance sustainability in their supply chain.

1. Social, ethical and environmental standards in the automotive industry can be assessed

25,000 automotive suppliers coming from more than 100 countries assessed their sustainability performance since 2014 using Drive Sustainability’ Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ). How is the SAQ helpful? Firstly, the SAQ is globally applicable for all suppliers in the Automotive supply chain, including sourcing, manufacturing, logistics, assembly, and retail. Secondly, the tool is comprehensive, embracing social sustainability (working conditions and human rights), environmental sustainability, business ethics, supplier management, and responsible sourcing of materials. Thirdly, it offers precious feedbacks that encourage constant improvements in companies. 88% of the total firms that filled out the SAQ more than once improved their sustainability score. While SAQ is only a small step in the bigger journey of supply chain due diligence, its role is key.

2. Sustainability challenges are country-specific, and China is not wasting time localising the Drive Sustainability global approach to their needs.

With 11 sectors providing 4 million direct jobs in China, the automotive industry plays an influential role in the country’ sustainability transition. As a result, the government pressed for more accountability in the private sector. Thus, seven of Drive Sustainability’s partners, BMW, Daimler,

Jaguar Land Rover, Scania, Volvo Cars, Volvo Group and Volkswagen, have together set up a local network in China in 2017. Drive Sustainability China aims at localising the global approach and aligning the most important Chinese stakeholders. After 4 training sessions for 140 suppliers, and 2 industry events with over 50 stakeholders in 2018, this year Drive Sustainability China will focus on 3 priorities:

  • Enhance knowledge sharing and awareness raising
  • Develop a common localised risk assessment tool
  • Develop a group mission and targets in conjunction with Drive Sustainability’s 2030 Strategy

3. Responsible sourcing of raw materials starts to be addressed

There are 28.000 parts assembled in a car, imagine the numbers for a bus or a truck! Not only. Each part can be made up of several materials. From the sourcing of each material to the production line, where a vehicle is put together, around 8 different tiers worldwide and a partly unknown supply-chain are involved. How can the automotive brands make sure that all these materials are sustainably sourced and manufactured? It is not an easy job. This year, Drive Sustainability joined the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM) and the Global Platform on Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR). As a result, the platform is now encouraging:

  • the adoption of responsible practices for the sourcing of tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold, also known as 3TG minerals.
  • better socio-economic and environmental performance of the natural rubber value chain.

For more information:

Catalina Pislaru

Senior Project Manager

View Drive Sustainability Progress Report

Discover other Collaborative Platforms facilitated by CSR Europe:

Improving Working conditions of Truck drivers 

Promoting Women in STEM  careers

Biodiversity & Industry Platform