Emissions on Blockchain
Mercedes Benz announced its move through a press release, detailing on how it is teaming up with Blockchain startup Circulor to record and eventually combat carbon emissions for its battery supply chain. The partnership is a part of the Startup Autobahn goal, an initiative towards identifying technologies for the next generation of vehicles.
The Blockchain technology will be used to track the carbon emitted by manufacturers of vehicle batteries, including the amount of recycled materials used for producing the electrical devices. The data collected from this endeavor will be eventually used by the Mercedes Benz to develop their plans of a new line of passenger vehicles which will have an overall neutral carbon footprint.
Mercedes Benz is not the first car manufacturer that has explored the use of Blockchain in its batteries related supply chain. Volvo is already using the decentralized technologyfor tracing recycled cobalt for its batteries in its suppliers’ chain. It is the first car manufacturer to successfully use the technology in terms of having these batteries in vehicles that are plying the roads. Other manufacturers have also used Blockchain in different scenarios, such as Ford, which is using it to identify areas in cities with low emissions laws and turn on electric mode of hybrid vehicles automatically.
The Cobalt Focus
Cobalt has, in recent times, come under extreme scrutiny in the world. An important mineral in the manufacturing of electrical batteries, most of it comes from the mines of Democratic Republic of Congo. The African nation is notorious for its appalling conditions of work and labor in the mines. According to a United Nations study in 2017, as much as 400,000 children were being used as labor in mines in the country.
The international community is becoming increasingly sensitive on the subject and the topic of ethical sourcing of materials is forcing battery manufacturers and auto companies to use cobalt extracted from child labor free and labor rights compliant mines. Since cobalt is already hard to get, manufacturers are increasingly using recycled one and trying to diminish their dependence on exploited one.
Leveraging Blockchain will help Mercedes Benz determine where the cobalt in its batteries was sourced from, enabling it do detect and determine compliance with its ethical standards, especially from the emissions and human rights perspective.