Volvo Trusts to Block Chain for Sustainability Tracking

Volvo is placing its trust in blockchain technology to ensure its batteries use ingredients from sustainable sources.

It plans to use the digital system most commonly associated with crypto-currency to track where ingredients, such as the cobalt used in EV batteries, has been sourced in a bid to underline its climate conscious credentials. Cobalt mining has been known to pollute water tables affecting fish and the food chain plus faces criticism of human rights abuses of workers and child labor in emerging economies such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Volvo says tracking of raw materials used in the production of lithium-ion batteries is one of the main sustainability challenges faced by carmakers. Blockchain technology claims a transparent and reliable shared data network, boosting transparency of the raw material supply chain because the information about the material’s origin cannot be changed undetected.

Volvo has reached an agreement with its two global battery suppliers, CATL of China and LG Chem of South Korea, and global blockchain technology firms to implement tracking of cobalt, starting this year. In this case, data in the blockchain includes the cobalt’s origin, attributes such as weight and size, the chain of custody and information establishing that participant’s behavior is consistent with OECD supply chain guidelines.

Martina Buchhauser, head of procurement at Volvo Cars, said: “We have always been committed to an ethical supply chain for our raw materials. With blockchain technology, we can take the next step towards ensuring full traceability of our supply chain and minimizing any related risks, in close collaboration with our suppliers.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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