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Honda maps its sustainable future

Earth dreams: Honda says that as part of its sustainable future, half of the cars it sells by 2030 will be powered by alternative energy.

Sustainability report outlines Honda's key environmental, safety, quality targets

30 Jun 2016

HONDA has spelled out how it intends to continue evolving with a constantly changing global environment and economy in its 2016 sustainability report, headlined by a target to cut CO2 emissions in half by 2050, compared with the year 2000.

The 105-page report details the Japanese manufacturing giant's strategy to “realise a sustainable society” and breaks down the plan into several key themes with the environment kept front and centre.

While many global manufacturers target only their own actions and activities as the subject of potential carbon dioxide emissions reduction, Honda is taking into account the emissions of its products after sale as an area that has the potential for reduction as well.

In the report, the vehicle-maker recognises that about 81 per cent of carbon emissions are from the use of its products and says that a target to cut CO2 emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 compared with 2000 levels takes the user figure into account.

Beyond that, with a continued focus on carbon reduction, Honda says it can chop the 2000 emission figure in half by 2050.

“As a responsible member of society whose task lies in the preservation of the global environment, the company will make efforts to contribute to human health and the preservation of the global environment in each phase of its corporate activity,” it said in the report. “Only in this way will we be able to count on a successful future not only for our company, but for the world.”

Four principles will guide the company to a more environmentally sound future from recycling and energy conservation, waste minimisation, consideration of all corporate activities and their effect on the environment, and the responsibility of every employee to consider their own actions.

Part of the carbon reduction will be achieved through a greater choice of alternative energy vehicles, with two thirds of Honda's global sales will be comprised of plug-in hybrids, hydrogen-fuelled and full battery electric cars by about 2030.

Of that proportion, Honda says half will be PHEVs or hydrogen powered.

The ambitious carbon target will only be attainable if the company embraces CO2 reduction holistically, reducing in all areas including manufacturing. In preparation, all of Honda's factories have been certified to the global environmental standard ISO 14001.

Its environmental efforts in Europe are being bolstered by some sites now acquiring the European Union’s Eco-Management Audit Scheme (EMAS) and ISO 50001 “Therefore, coverage of environmental management systems is virtually 100 per cent,” the report reads.

Its environmental focus is underpinned by a key Triple Zero concept, which addresses climate change and aims to minimise its contribution by 'zeroing' CO2 emissions through the complete use of renewable energy – made possible by reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

The third 'zeroing' focuses on “the effective utilisation of resources” and the minimisation of “risk” across a product's entire life span.

Underneath the halo of environmental preservation, the company report also maps the future safety of its products with an intent to create “a collision-free mobile society” through the use of semi- and fully autonomous technologies.

Like some other manufacturers and technology companies, Honda is exploring the possibility of peer-to-peer vehicle communication and cloud-based information sharing to eliminate vehicle collisions and human injury in turn.

While Cooperative-Intelligent Transportation System (C-ITS) is already nearing production cars, Honda is also working on the same system for its two-wheeled vehicles.

According to the report, the first autonomous Honda is just years away.

“Honda continues to conduct research and development of self-driving functions and aims for the actual application of these technologies on the highway by 2020.”

The safety advances are not just down to vehicle technology says Honda, and its ambitious plan will only become a reality with similar efforts in the areas of human safety education, telecommunication networks as well as more advanced vehicles.

Quality of Honda products is also cited as a major area the company will heavily resource and the sustainability guide quotes the philosophy of Honda founder Soichiro Honda.

“We have to aim for 120 per cent product quality,” he said. “If 99 per cent of the products we make are perfect, that would seem like a pretty good record.

However, the customers who become the owners of the remaining one per cent will surely consider their products 100 per cent defective.”

Honda has attained ISO 9001 quality management rating and will continue to strive for increased quality, reduced waste with frequent supplier audits, durability testing and line end testing (LETs).

The report explains that Honda's organisation is held together by its people and that human resources are of critical importance for its future vision.

In Japan's predominantly male managed business society, Honda says it will instate three times more women to management positions by 2020 and nine times more by 2025.

As a further focus on the happiness and well-being of its employees, Honda is continuing the roll-out of schemes such as an incentive that encourages staff to take holidays and not work excessively long hours, which is prevalent in Japanese culture and has been proven to detrimentally impact productivity.

“To encourage our associates to take regular annual paid vacations and use their vacation time effectively to refresh themselves and increase motivation, Honda has recently introduced a system whereby associates are accorded blocks of three to five consecutive paid holidays depending on their years of continuous service,” the report states.

With a broader global focus, Honda is transitioning into using English as its universal language, and by 2020, all international communication will be distributed in English.

The company’s extensive global 'social activity' will continue to receive generous funding and exposure, with projects such as the Brazilian initiative to help young people find employment, clean drinking water projects in India and racing wheelchairs for paralympians just a handful of examples of countless previous ventures.

While the company invests most in educational projects around the world, it will also fund a wide range of traffic safety, community, disaster relief and environmental missions.

Supply chain optimisation and enhancement rounds out the sustainability forecast with yet more opportunity to reducer costs, boost efficiency, reduce waste and cut CO2 production says Honda.

Swapping road transport for rail will continue to cut fossil fuel dependence, and where truck haulage is unavoidable, Honda is implementing systems to reduce the transport of empty shipping containers.

With more strategic management of freight, export supplies can be despatched in one direction and the container can be loaded with import goods for the return journey, effectively cutting the movement of an empty truck for two journeys.

Recycling in supply chains is also being maximised, including a shift to adopting reusable plastic bins in stacking modules, which replace disposable cardboard trays in heavily resource and energy-dependent steel frames.

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