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Sustainability Newsletter – June 2024

Farewell chrome plating, bravo for Renault’s recycled interiors and a cheer for the … circular economy for recycled tyres

Erin Baker

Words by: Erin Baker

Published on 18 June 2024 | 0 min read

Planet-saving regulations for car makers normally make the headlines, but one has escaped everyone’s notice so far this year, this being a ban on chrome plating in Europe. The shiny covering traditionally used on door handles, bumpers and badges was once popular for its looks but also has anti-corrosive properties, making it a good coating for external metal parts. However, it is highly harmful to the environment, humans and animals, with carcinogenic properties. Excess exposure can cause various cancers, and it enters the water course and soil when used in large quantities.
From this year onwards no new cars sold in Europe can use chrome plating, and an alternative material with the same properties must be substituted. America – home of chrome back in the day – will introduce the same ban in 2039.
Meanwhile hands aloft for the new Renault Scenic 100% Electric, recent winner of the Erin Baker Award in the 2024 Auto Trader New Car Awards for its incredible value-for-money offering. The Scenic contains “up to” 24 per cent recycled materials and “up to” 90 per cent of the car is recycled. The “up to” bit is a hedge on which version you choose and its mix of interior materials. Speak to your Renault dealer for more information but this is more like it and brands are moving on from celebrating a measly recycled footmat to talking big percentages of the entire car’s materials. Let’s keep pushing manufacturers to increase those percentages.
Meanwhile, this month’s (informal) award for most impressive clean start-up is for the Tyre Collective. Tyres aren’t on most people’s radars when it comes to protecting the environment, but they are becoming a huge issue as we switch to electric cars. This on the basis batteries weigh a lot, so electric cars are heavier, which leads to more tyre wear. As this happens little particles of plastic fly into the air and our water ways, polluting both. To give you an idea of the scale of the problem the amount of microplastics flying off a bus’s wheels on London’s longest bus route in one day would fill a box the size of a grapefruit. When we have all finally switched to electric cars, tyres may well become the biggest pollutant from road traffic.
What’s to be done? Tyre companies are working on compounds that don’t degrade so quickly and don’t contain so much plastic but, in the meantime, the Tyre Collective is a lovely little clean-tech start-up that has devised a contraption to capture tyre pollution, and close the loop by turning the captured particles into other products, like bitumen, shoe soles and sound-proofing. We adore the idea of this, given it goes beyond just capturing a pollutant and addresses the ‘what next’ principle of turning it into a circular economy. No pun intended, given the subject matter in this instance!

Previous Sustainability Newsletters:

Sustainability newsletter – May 2024 | Lithium is key in the production of electric car batteries, but where does it all come from and at what cost?
Sustainability newsletter – March 2024 | The importance of renewable energy in making sure electric cars really are the green choice, and one Dutch couple’s mission to prove it! • Sustainability newsletter – January 2024 | French act on heavy SUVs and embedded CO2 of imported electric cars, BYD plans European factory and Nio opens battery swapping centres • Sustainability newsletter – December 2024 | Vauxhall electrifies Britain’s streets, a second life for electric car batteries and recycled Alcantara seat fabric combines luxury and sustainability • Sustainability newsletter – November 2023 | Costs for EV batteries fall, funding for UK-sourced lithium project, GM goes renewable and Lynk & Co commits to life cycle CO2 audits • Sustainability newsletter – October 2023 | Costs for EV batteries fall, funding for UK-sourced lithium project, GM goes renewable and Lynk & Co commits to life cycle CO2 audits • Sustainability newsletter – September 2023 | Erin Baker shares her thoughts on the UK's changing net zero targets and delaying the 2030 ban for new petrol and diesel cars. • Sustainability newsletter – August 2023 | Zapmap reports increased charger installations, Lime's e-mobility revolution and Nissan's autonomous driving • Sustainability newsletter – July 2023 | Public charging network expands, hydrogen back on the agenda and choosing green tyres • Sustainability newsletter – June 2023 | BMW helps electrify the UK’s national parks and Kia ditches leather across its range of cars • Sustainability newsletter – May 2023 | What upholstery will you be choosing for your next car - leather or pleather? • Sustainability newsletter – April 2023 | Polestar’s ‘moonshot’ for a zero emissions car and a look into synthetic fuels as a possible lifeline for internal combustion classics • Sustainability newsletter – February 2023 | Our regular sustainability round-up continues with a look at some new recycled materials this month, all of which could be in your car soon • Sustainability newsletter – January 2023 | Eco awareness is driving more and more car buying decisions for a variety of reasons -here we celebrate those doing it right!