Faurecia and Veolia focus on recycled plastics for car interiors

09 May 2022

car interior

Veolia and Faurecia have signed an agreement to develop sustainable compounds for vehicle interiors. The aim is to get an average of 30% recycled content into various modules by 2025. The pair want to accelerate Europe’s use of green materials in centre consoles, as well as instrument and door panels.

Sustainability is transforming the automotive industry at a rapid pace. Once happy to rely heavily on new plastic components, carmakers are now opting for alternative materials to build environmentally-friendly models. But recycled plastics are just one element of this green transformation. Car companies are also investigating the use of bio-based materials, low-carbon metals, and even broken glass.

Strengthening the circular economy

Faurecia and Veolia see using recycled plastics as an important sustainable step, helping to reduce CO2 emissions and improve the environmental footprint of cars. So, to provide a viable alternative to virgin materials, the new strategic partnership will work with industrial and post-consumer plastic waste.

Veolia will begin production of secondary raw materials at its existing recycling locations in France from next year. The water, waste and energy-management company has been supplying polypropylene compounds to the automotive industry in the country for over five years. The new collaboration with Faurecia will allow Veolia to expand its automotive product range to vehicle interiors.

‘As demand for recycled plastic increases across all sectors in the context of resource scarcity, there is a need to recycle more plastic waste streams. The collaboration with Faurecia allows us to increase our supply of secondary raw materials to the automotive industry through the development of high value-added compounds. These sustainable interior solutions will also be a strong contributor to sustainable mobility, which is at the heart of the ecological transformation,’ said Estelle Brachlianoff, Group COO at Veolia. 

‘Veolia is growing its plastic-recycling capacities with continuous investment in the industrialisation and expansion of our existing recycling sites in France and globally, with the objective to reach €1 billion turnover by 2025,’ Brachlianoff added.

In 2011, automotive technology firm Faurecia introduced a range of bio-composite cockpit solutions with Nafilean. Now featured in some 13 million vehicles, the CO2 footprint of these products is 28% lower than conventional counterparts made entirely out of plastic. Last year, the company created a cross-business, sustainable materials division. Its purpose is to offer low, and even negative-CO2 materials.

‘By combining our innovation and industrial forces with Veolia, we will accelerate the introduction of breakthrough sustainable materials and their time-to-market, as well as contributing to reducing plastic waste and strengthening the circular economy,’ said Patrick Koller, Faurecia CEO. ‘This agreement will also strongly contribute to Faurecia’s roadmap towards CO2 neutrality for scope three, based on the principles of using less, using better and using longer.’

The green rush

Green shoots have been sprouting all over the automotive industry as companies look to lower their CO2 emissions and present more environmentally-friendly options. The list of carmakers and component manufacturers joining in the green rush appears to be growing each day.

Kia has positioned its recently revealed Niro Plus as a sustainable purpose-built electric vehicle. Designed for deployment in South Korea as a zero-emissions taxi, it will be built in an environmentally-friendly fashion, using green materials. This will be developed from recycled wallpaper, eucalyptus leaves, and water-based paint. There are also plans to phase out the use of animal leather in all vehicles.

As part of a new pilot with its partners, Audi hopes to make use of broken or faulty car windows and windscreens. Instead of throwing them out, the companies will break the windows down, eliminate the impurities, melt down the resulting glass and turn it into a new plate. Elsewhere, Continental is launching volume production of tyres made with recycled polyester obtained from plastic bottles.

Green supplier Bcomp is set to work with carmakers like BMW and Volvo to integrate flax-based materials into their models. Using its ampliTex and powerRib designs, the company creates composites with less environmental impact. This is thanks to dematerialisation, renewable raw materials, weight reduction, and greater end-of-life options.