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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)


Jaguar Land Rover and Novelis: committed to collaboration for a closed-loop value chain

Ian Ellison, Sustainability Manager with Jaguar Land Rover and Senior Associate at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

28 January 2016

In 2015 the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) launched Rewiring the Economy, which proposes ten tasks to catalyse a sustainable economy. Rewiring our economy can seem like a daunting task from an individual stakeholder perspective, so the challenge is broken down into tasks assigned to different economic stakeholders. Tasks 1–6 are targeted, primarily, at governments and investors, whilst Tasks 7–10 are aimed at companies. As a sustainability practitioner in a business, I focus on these latter tasks. 

Building a circular economy

Over recent years we at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) have moved much of our car production from steel to aluminium to save weight, and consequently fuel and CO2 tailpipe emissions. The transition was looked at from a whole life cycle perspective, exploring the full spectrum of natural capital impacts (Task 8). Our engineers realised that, to maximise the environmental benefit, we would need to create an aluminium supply chain that formed a closed loop. Following the basic template for a circular economy (Task 7) and working with our sheet aluminium supplier Novelis, they set out to create a closed-loop aluminium value chain to create ambitious savings in carbon, energy, costs and other sustainability impacts.

After years of close collaboration between JLR, Novelis and many other stakeholders, and demonstrating our passion for environmental innovation, the vision is taking shape. We’ve learnt a lot along the way. Talking to other companies, trying to understand how to rewire their part of the economy, we realised that many of the same issues come up again and again. Having attended CISL’s Sustainable Value Chains programme, we collectively captured our experiences and documented key lessons that would be transferrable to other companies and sectors, so as to accelerate and de-risk their efforts. 

"It’s unusual for customers to request a car ‘with sustainable value chains’ but they care about environmental performance."


Creating a sustainable future

The learning points go beyond the automotive industry and are available to other companies working to create closed loop value chains and circular economy business models, in our report 'Collaboration for a Closed Loop Value Chain'.  Better innovation, improved collaboration and thought leadership has changed the way we at Jaguar Land Rover work with aluminium and we continue to use our experiences to  adapt other key value chains and contribute to CISL’s business and academic programmes (Task 9).

We also work closely with our communications and marketing teams to engage our customers. It’s unusual for customers to request a car "with sustainable value chains" but they care about environmental performance and it’s important to educate car buyers about factors beyond fuel efficiency and tailpipe CO2 emissions. If they value our efforts it’s easier to make the case to close the loop on more value chains in the future.

Finally, we offer our learning points as a case study for businesses, governments and investors (Tasks 1–6) and hope that it informs and inspires others to follow our journey. Our experiences are of wide collaboration and win-wins, not adversarial politics and trade-offs. With supportive policies and investment practices for development of further sustainable value chains, other organisations can do their part to lay the foundations for a sustainable economy. 

Accredited by the University of Cambridge, the part-time Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Value Chains helps professionals create resilient supply chains. Submit your application before the end of March.

About the author

Ian Ellison 100x100Ian Ellison is Sustainability Manager with Jaguar Land Rover, Vehicle Engineering. This role includes managing key vehicle sustainability attributes such as energy management, light-weighting and environmental lifecycle impacts (including: supply chain, closed-loop materials management, lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions and end of life) throughout the product development process. Ian is one of our Senior Associates.


Guest articles on the blog do not necessarily represent the views of, or endorsement by, the Institute or the wider University of Cambridge.


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