The Scope 3 Carbon Footprint Of A Plastic Automotive Part
Why is carbon footprint so important for plastic in automotive?
In recent years, the automotive industry has witnessed a significant shift towards the use of plastics in various vehicle components. This transition is driven by several factors, including the need to reduce vehicle weight for improved fuel efficiency and the desire to enhance design flexibility and reduce manufacturing costs.
Plastics offer a lightweight alternative to traditional metals like steel and aluminum, making them increasingly prevalent in automotive parts. From interior trim panels and dashboard components to exterior body panels and structural elements, plastics are now integral to modern vehicle design.
This trend not only helps automakers meet stringent fuel efficiency and emission standards but also provides consumers with more comfortable, stylish, and technologically advanced vehicles.
However, it’s essential to consider the environmental impact of this shift towards plastics in the automotive industry. While plastics offer weight-saving benefits that can reduce a vehicle’s carbon emissions during operation, their production and end-of-life disposal can have a significant carbon footprint. The manufacturing of plastics, especially petroleum-based plastics, often involves energy-intensive processes and the emission of greenhouse gases.
What are the 3 most impactful variables of a plastic parts carbon footprint?
The carbon footprint of plastic can be broken down into three main categories: What the plastic is made from, the energy required to make the plastic parts, and how far they must travel before being assembled into a finished product.
80% of a plastic part’s carbon footprint is the plastic itself. It is important to understand the type of plastic, what it is made from, and what are the additives.
The current Scope 3 emissions impact of plastic is around 80% from the plastic itself. Plastic is not just “plastic”. It is a blend of different additives that improve performance, and reduce weight and cost. Understanding what ingredients go into plastic can help us understand the impact of that plastic.
There are few options available to reduce the carbon footprint of plastic products, and the most prevalent is additive changes.
The Heartland team has found that by using Imperium as an additive in plastic, you can maintain performance and reduce cost and carbon footprint. This is a powerful blend of variables required to jump-start a new industry.
15% of a plastic part’s carbon footprint is the process of making the plastic part. Understanding the molding process, the energy required, and the plant efficiency.
The current Scope 3 emissions impact of energy is around 15% of the plastic itself. There are two main components of energy consumption, the compounding and molding of plastic.
By integrating sustainable energy sources, this can be reduced to 0% very easily.
5% of a plastic part’s carbon footprint is the trucking required. How far does the plastic part have to travel to get to the assembly line?
The current Scope 3 emissions impact of trucking is around 5% of the plastic itself.
Currently, there are limited options to reduce logistics costs. The first is to localize as much of the production as possible, this may or may not be an option depending on costs. The second is upcoming technology like electric/hydrogen vehicles for transportation. This will enable a more efficient and sustainable future for logistics.
Where can I start on my journey to decarbonize my plastic products?
Connect with the Heartland team to discuss options for how you can begin your decarbonization journey.
Join us in creating a carbon negative future!