An automaker consider changes to parts buying to improve sustainability
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An automaker consider changes to parts buying to improve sustainability

Jul 28, 2023

Stellantis, the Netherlands-based owner of car brands including Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Fiat, says it wants to be more green. And it may change the way it works with suppliers to make that happen.

(Unrelated but true story, I was once at an auto press event where someone thought that "green vehicles" literally referred to the color green. But I digress.)

Executives as Stellantis, with North American headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., seem to acknowledge that the way they've worked with suppliers in the past hasn't been the best way to encourage cooperation between carmakers and suppliers. During an industry conference, Alison Jones, the head of global circular economy at Stellantis, said the company sees room for improvement in its outreach to suppliers, John Irwin from our sister paper Automotive News writes.

That could even change the way Stellantis buys parts, AN noted. But that will require a change to the standard way of buying parts — the request for quotes, or RFQ.

"What typically happens is an RFQ goes out, and then suppliers come to us," Jones said. "What we're trying to do is be aware of suppliers and [have] suppliers come to us before we put an RFQ package out, because there may be opportunities that we haven't considered."

Machinery sales have fallen in the U.S. this year, with injection molding equipment taking nearly a 20 percent tumble compared with 2022.

In its quarterly report, the Plastics Industry Association's Committee on Equipment Statistics showed machinery shipment values overall for the second quarter vs. the first quarter fell 4.1 percent.

But as PN's Catherine Kavanaugh reports, single-screw extruders stood out, with shipments up 39.3 percent vs. the first quarter and 40.9 percent compared with the same period a year ago, although single-screw extruders tend to be a small section of the industry with numbers that can vary based on just a few companies' sales.

The numbers indicate that with machinery sales down and capacity utilization rates lower, few companies are looking to make big capital expenditures, noted Bill Wood, PN economics editor.

"So output of product is down and use of existing capacity is way down," he told Catherine. "You're not going to sell new machines into that environment."

Art can change minds. And, according to a study out of South Africa, art can also change recycling and waste habits.

The Masibambisane project (the name means strength in unity in the local Ndebele dialect) went beyond simply setting up recycling bins in the Mpumalanga Prince in South Africa. It recruited local artists who used music, comedy and art to help convince local residents in the province east of Johannesburg to take plastic waste to collection points, our sister paper Sustainable Plastics writes.

Within 10 months, nearly 21 percent of community members now use bins supplied through the program for recycling and waste disposal and two-thirds of respondents noticed a positive change in their environment, with half of those people attributing the improvement to the bins.

The arts projects, especially murals, were credited as being the most significant drivers in the program.

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