Mercedes drives battery suppliers to sustainable cobalt and lithium

November 12, 2020 // By Nick Flaherty
Mercedes drives battery suppliers to sustainable cobalt and lithium
Mercedes-Benz is to insist its battery suppliers, including Farasis, CATL and SK Innovation, commit to using only sustainable, ethically sourced cobalt and lithium for its electric vehicles.  

Daimler says the company is taking a comprehensive approach across the whole battery technology chain from research and development to series production for sustainable lithium and cobalt for battery cells. Shockingly, there is no cobalt mine that complies to international standards, and the company aims to eliminate cobalt in solid state cells. 

"In the coming generations of battery cells, the cobalt content is already being reduced to less than ten percent. In the future, we want to use post-lithium-ion technologies with new material compositions to completely dispense with materials such as cobalt,” said Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz and responsible for Daimler Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars COO. “The further optimization of recyclability and its implementation at Mercedes-Benz is also part of the holistic battery strategy,” he said.

Mercedes is working to the Standard for Responsible Mining developed by the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) as one of the key criteria for supplier decisions and supplier contracts within raw material supply chains. The standard is in the early stage of adoption by the industry, a process the company seeks to accelerate as there are currently no cobalt mines certified by IRMA.

Mercedes-Benz is working with IRMA and consultancy RCS Global on a step-by-step approach for dealing with particularly challenging local situations. This approach will be taken with a limited number of cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, auditing them against a series of specific sets of requirements in the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining. In addition to the human rights aspects, the environmentally friendly mining of raw materials and other key aspects relating to the consequences of industrial mining are examined.

In 2018 Mercedes-Benz commissioned RCS Global to establish transparency over the complex cobalt supply chains behind battery cells and to audit these at every stage. More than 120 suppliers were identified

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