Sustainability criteria for life cycle management in the South African context
differ from other regions of the world. From an environmental perspective, natural water resources are limited and significant losses of topsoil have been experienced, which is seen as an important agricultural resource. Water and land should therefore be considered as specific criteria where certain materials or components in the automotive life cycle rely heavily on these resources, e.g. leather and natural fibres for interior finishing. Also, waste management was not given a high priority historically, which has resulted in the lack of long term planning, information, legislation and the capacity to handle waste streams.
Similar to the use of water and land, waste streams that influence the ambient quality of air, water and land resources are important factors in the life cycle management of materials and products imported from South Africa. Furthermore, from an economic perspective, mined resources are important and the impact on current reserves must also be considered together with the other environmental resources. Two examples are given of automotive components exported by the manufacturing sector in South Africa and their related impacts.