Volvo Produces First Cars Using Blockchain-tracked Cobalt

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Volvo has produced the first cars featuring batteries made with cobalt that has been tracked on the blockchain to ensure it is conflict-free and not mined through child labor. Volvo has used recycled cobalt from China that was tracked all the way through the recycling process by British blockchain specialist Circulor, who built the blockchain using technology from Oracle, with Volvo telling Reuters that the aim was “full transparency and traceability”.

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Volvo was one of a number of companies who announced in January this year that it was teaming up with IBM to clean up the cobalt supply with blockchain, two-thirds of which heralds from the Democratic Republic of Congo which has a reputation for employing child labor and mistreating workers.

The rising popularity of electric cars has led to increased demand for batteries, and therefore components, which has in turn caused customers and investors to put pressure on carmakers to be more open about where certain elements come from, particular cobalt. Volvo was joined in January by fellow automaker Ford, technology giant IBM, electronics giant LG, and China’s Huayou Cobalt in a project overseen by responsible-sourcing group RCS Global to increase the transparency behind raw materials.

Blockchain a Useful Piece of a Bigger Puzzle

Despite the breakthrough, blockchain alone does not hold all the answers, according to those at the heart of the push for blockchain implementation – Doug Johnson-Poensgen, CEO of Circulor, told Reuters, “No technology can completely replace due diligence. What it will do is improve enforcement of standards by highlighting when things are not working as intended.”

Of course, a technology like blockchain is only as effective as its implementation, but the use of blockchain in this specific example can improve accountability and even fend off disputes in a traditionally fractious environment, further enhancing its reputation as the future of supply chain technology.