Reinventing the wheel, and the rest of this bike.
As manufacturing stands for an estimated 70-80% of the emissions tab racked up by a CAKE Kalk OR throughout its lifetime, improvements made therein have huge consequences for the net environmental footprint.
CAKE and Vattenfall's first action was to literally disassemble a Kalk OR, resulting in just north of 100 assembled components lying in front of us. Which in turn, are made up of +2000 smaller parts. Each of these parts have a history and more importantly, an environmental footprint.
Rethinking our supply chains
Just as the coffee you had this morning has traveled long and far to reach your cup, all components that make up a CAKE bike come from somewhere in the world. Brakes, suspension and batteries are manufactured and then shipped to a destination where assembly takes place (depending on target market, this happens in either Sweden or Taiwan, with a US location scheduled to open soon). All these parts are in turn made up of materials or composites thereof. Continuing our stroll down the material promenade, these of course can be traced to a place of origin, such as a mine, from where our journey to fossil freeness will start.
Calculating the footprint
By mapping these highly complex supply chains, carefully evaluating every component and its individual carbon footprint, we have come up with a number that elegantly displays our starting point – 1,186 kg CO2e
That is the total carbon footprint weight in kilograms of our testbed vehicle, the CAKE Kalk OR. From mine to finished product, it involves all materials processed, waste generated, energy and chemical consumed and every km of transportation involved. Read more about the calculation methodology here.
Starting with materials
We’ve looked into two separate pathways to move forward. At first, we investigated the feasibility of treating each component separately. This entailed tracking the entire supply chain of each individual part, a sobering process that we eventually learned could be greatly simplified by not focusing on the end product – in this case specific parts – but rather tackling the materials used to make said parts.
By setting our sight on the 4 main materials used in the bike, aluminum, steel, plastic and rubber, finding the ultimate solution for each, we realized that we could leapfrog the process and offer clean, viable materials for our part manufacturers to use when making their components, instead of individually developing their emission-free supply chains. This was our first major learning, one that we willingly share to help fellow industry colleagues to speed up the transition.
As we speak, we have our hands dirty, researching and developing the most fossil free solutions out there for aluminum and plastic. Can we replace plastics with, say, paper? Working together with some of the finest, most ingenious engineers and companies around we will soon have more news to share.