Kia’s eco-friendly focus bears fruit

Kia’s eco-friendly focus bears fruit

A car’s status as green is not merely dependent on what comes out its exhaust pipe as Korean-brand Kia knows only too well.

This is evident in the lower greenhouse gas emissions levels, less waste and reduced water use across the Korean car manufacturer’s domestic production sites over the past 12 months. The changes come from a focus on recycling, employee sustainability initiatives, the reduction of unit waste and cleaner more modern production methods.

Kia’s domestic plants, located in Sohari, Gwangju and Hwasung, Korea, accounted for 56.5% of all Kia global production in 2015 – 1.72 million units.

While the company’s year on year global sales grew by 0.3% in 2015, to 3.05 million units, the ongoing focus on sustainability across the brand’s manufacturing facilities has minimised the environmental impact of this growth.

Kia’s focus on improving production methods from lower consumption of raw materials to less waste and more recycling has resulted in a 12.4% per unit reduction in the volume of raw materials required since 2014 and a 21.5% reduction since 2003.

Kia has achieved a 22.1% drop in the steel required to produce each car as well as an 11.7% drop in the consumption of paint throughout the same period since 2003.

As a result of this push for greater efficiency, Kia has recorded a 1.2% reduction in per-unit waste output since 2014, and a 30% decrease since 2003.

Kia has also introduced programmes to recycle and reuse paint and thinners while other waste is used to make cement for construction and other materials.

The company has introduced a range of measures to conserve water, including employee water conservation campaigns and stemming cooling water overflow to improve water recovery rates from condensed steam produced during manufacturing.

Despite growth in production across all three production facilities, Kia’s water use decreased by 5.5% in total volume in 2015, from 6.3 million m3 to 5.957 million m3, and by 6.5% per unit. Per-unit consumption of water is now down 38.5% since 2003.

CO2 emissions resulting directly from the production process have also fallen. In 2015, per-unit emissions of CO2 generated during production fell 2.8% year on year and have reduced by 29.6% since 2008. Kia’s total decrease in production CO2 emissions is equivalent to the annual carbon intake of 48 million pine trees.

At the same time, the level of harmful air pollutants generated per vehicle during the manufacturing process – including paint particles, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), dust particles and combustion gases – have also decreased. VOC levels are now 54.2% lower than in 2005, while air pollutant emissions were slashed by 5% from 2014 to 2015, and are now 53% lower than in 2003.

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