Auto Service World
Feature   January 1, 2009   by Auto Service World

Clutches Going Green

With increased pressure from the public to become more environmentally friendly, certain companies have taken it upon themselves to “go green.”

However, environmental sustainability isn’t always the prime motivator. Over the decades, products evolve as technology naturally progresses. The fact that they are more environmentally friendly is often a secondary benefit.

The friction materials on clutch discs, for example, used to contain asbestos, which is not only harmful to the environment, but also to those who work with the products. Thankfully, this hasn’t been the case for decades.

In terms of minimizing the environmental impact of products, Europe has been largely at the forefront. One case in point is Valeo.

Valeo today is one of the world’s leading suppliers of automotive systems, modules, and components. Although the firm has plants across five continents, it is subject to fairly strict laws passed by the European Union regarding the environment, since Valeo’s main headquarters are located in Paris. As a result, all Valeo products developed in North America meet the EU’s environmental protection requirements, and more significantly, are safer for the environment.

At the end of 2006, all plants under the Valeo brand were subjected to the REACH (Regulation, Evaluation, Authorization, and restriction of CHemicals) regulation.

These laws require all industrial manufacturers to list and register all the substances contained in Valeo products they sell, and then to demonstrate to the European Chemicals Agency (ECA) that they are not hazardous.

The laws have already had significant “greening” as well as improved health effects in product manufacturing: trichloroethylene solvents are no longer used in the manufacture of clutch facings, and a “hazardous products” campaign has succeeded in significantly reducing the number of sites that still use carcinogenic, mutagenic, and reprotoxic chemicals.

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