Wednesday, November 30, 2022
News More and More Automakers are Turning to Recycled Plastic to Become Sustainable

More and More Automakers are Turning to Recycled Plastic to Become Sustainable

Many automakers are now using recycled and sustainable materials in their vehicles, especially for the interior

  • The Ford Bronco Sport uses wire clips made from recycled fishing nets

  • Audi recycles plastic bottles to make carpet and seat fabrics in the new A3

  • Volvo, Polestar, BMW and Mazda are all turning to more sustainable materials in their cars

In an effort to become more sustainable and attract customers that are interested in the environment, many automakers are replacing traditional petroleum or animal-based materials in their cars by alternatives that are made of recycled or sustainable materials in addition to going electric with their new models.

For example, Ford replaced the seat foam from its Mustang by a material made from soy over ten years ago, in 2008. The Dearborn automaker recently made another advancement in this domain by introducing recycled plastics to its lineup in the Bronco Sport.

The wiring clips used to guide the side-airbag wires in the Bronco Sport are made from recycled nylon fishing nets that are bought from fishermen and then injection molded into the appropriate clips, which the automaker says are just as durable as petroleum-based plastic clips.

The automaker is reportedly testing this material for use in other applications, such as wire shields and transmission brackets to be used in the Bronco Sport.

Ford is not the only company to make use of recycled materials however, since Audi is incorporating reused plastic bottles to make up to 89% of the seat fabrics of its new A3 compact sedan. The carpets in this same model also make use of 62 additional bottles. The e-tron GT electric sports car also features carpet and floor mats made from sustainable materials, this time a nylon fiber called Econyl, which is made from recycled fishing nets.

Volvo is also looking into sustainability and the brand announced that all of its electric vehicles will be devoid of leather, which means that its whole lineup will be leather-free by 2030 due to the company’s electrification goals. In order to replace leather, Volvo is offering wool-blend seat fabrics and a new material called Nordico, which is made from recycled bottles, material from sustainable Swedish and Finnish forests and corks recycled from the wine industry.

2021 Polestar 2 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

In addition, the carpets in the new C40 Recharge electric SUV are made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.

The brand’s parent company, Polestar, is also making advancements in the sector, notably by its use of a flax derived composite to replace most of the interior plastics in the Polestar 2 electric vehicle.

Mazda is also experimenting with new materials in its first EV, the MX-30, whose door panels are made from recycled bottles. In addition, the seats feature 20% recycled threads and the center console is covered in cork, a sustainable material that is used both to create an eco-friendlier style and to recall Mazda’s origin as a cork processing company.

Another automaker that is using a newly released electric vehicle to introduce more recycled materials is BMW, which uses recycled plastics to create most of the door panels, floor, seats and center console in its new iX electric SUV. In addition, the instrument panel is treated with an olive leaf extract in order to reduce the number of harmful chemicals used in the manufacturing process. All in all, the BMW iX uses about 132 pounds of recycled plastic in its composition.

Many other manufacturers have announced they will be using recycled and sustainable materials in the future, which is good for the environment due to the lower emissions created by the production of materials, but also because these recycle plastics come mostly from the millions of tons of detritus that are polluting the oceans.

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