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Automotive industry develops new guidance for measuring recycled content of automotive products

The Suppliers Partnership for the Environment (SP) and the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) have published a new guidance document, “Measuring Recycled Content of Automotive Products.”

The guidance document was produced through a collaborative process by the Suppliers Partnership for the Environment’s (SP) Materials Efficiency Work Group, whose members include automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Honda Development & Manufacturing of America, LLC (HDMA), Stellantis, Toyota Motor North America and their suppliers, in collaboration with the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG).

The document is designed to outline a common industry-supported definition and straightforward approach for measuring recycled content of automotive products consistent with those approaches outlined in other standards.


Simplified process flow. Source: “Measuring Recycled Content of Automotive Products

Recycled Content represents the proportion of recycled material, by mass, incorporated in a process. Sources of recycled content may include:

  • R1: Material that has gone through another process (secondary process) prior to use with the same product, component, or manufacturing process. It is scrap that is sent to a separate process and brought back in a different form and/or with composition adjustments.

  • R2: Material recovered from a downstream manufacturing process or end user of the same or another product that is used in a manufacturing process.

  • R3: Recycled portion of purchased raw material, including materials recovered or generated by other industries. Only the recycled portion of a purchased raw material may be counted when material consists of recycled and virgin content.

As we continue forward in our aspiration to maximize use of sustainable content in vehicles, we decided to pull together a team of automakers and suppliers with the objective to develop straightforward common definitions of key terms related to the topic of sustainable materials to minimize duplication of effort and promote consistent approaches in communications with suppliers, sustainability reporting and measuring industry progress.

—Reeshemah Howard, Sustainability Mission Leader, General Motors

Striving to eliminate waste and optimize use of sustainable materials in automotive operations and products is a key priority for our member companies. While there are established definitions of certain terms related to the topic of sustainable materials, we have found that a range of different definitions and interpretations of such terms may be in use across industry today and feel there is an opportunity for the automotive industry to take the lead in promoting further alignment in this area through its supply chain.

—Kellen Mahoney, Program Director, SP

AIAG was pleased to collaborate with Suppliers Partnership in developing a common definition of recycled content for use throughout the automotive industry. We believe this new guidance document will help reduce confusion associated with differing definitions, and consequently support industry efforts surrounding the use of sustainable and recyclable materials. Our team also plans to convene a new work group in the coming months to focus on sustainable materials-specific initiatives and developing additional resources for companies throughout the supply chain.

—Lecedra Welch, Program Manager, Environmental Sustainability, AIAG

SP and AIAG are recommending that automotive companies reference the definitions and process outlined in this guidance and that this document be distributed widely across the automotive supply chain as best practice guidance when determining recycled content of an automotive product. In the coming month, SP and AIAG will also be releasing a companion guidance document outlining a common process for measuring renewable content of automotive products.

The Suppliers Partnership for the Environment (SP) is an association of automakers and their suppliers working in collaboration with the US EPA and other governmental entities toward a shared vision of an automotive industry with positive environmental impact.

The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) is a not-for-profit organization where OEMs, suppliers, service providers, government entities, and individuals in academia have worked together for more than 39 years to drive down costs and complexity from the automotive supply chain. With more than 4,000 member companies, AIAG provides a legal, non-competitive forum for collaboration on innovative solutions to common industry issues.


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