Volvo to use 25% recycled plastic in new vehicles

After recently pledging to ban single-use plastics across its premises and events by the end of next year, Swedish carmaker Volvo has announced a new target of using at least 25% recycled plastic in all new vehicles it produces by 2025.

Volvo hopes the move will encourage other car manufacturers to incorporate recycled materials in their components

Volvo hopes the move will encourage other car manufacturers to incorporate recycled materials in their components

The company hopes the move will drive cross-industry change, encouraging competitors to develop more circular next-generation components through design that incorporates repurposed waste streams.

“We already work with some great, forward-thinking suppliers when it comes to sustainability; however, we do need increased availability of recycled plastics if we are to make our ambition a reality,” Volvo Cars’ senior vice president of global procurement, Martina Buchhauser, said.

“That is why we call on even more suppliers and new partners to join us in investing in recycled plastics and to help us realise our ambition.”

To demonstrate the viability of its new aim, the firm unveiled a version of its XC60 T8 plug-in hybrid SUV that looks identical to the existing model but has had several of its plastic components replaced with equivalents containing recycled content.

The SUV, which was revealed on Sunday (June 17), has a tunnel console made from renewable fibres, plastics from discarded fishing nets and maritime ropes.

Car seats and carpets also include fibres made from plastic bottles, while the sound-absorbing material under its bonnet is created from end-of-life car seats from old Volvo vehicles.

The carmaker’s new pledge came at the Ocean Summit during the Gothenburg Volvo Ocean Race stopover, which Volvo hosted in partnership with the United Nations Environment Clean Seas campaign in a bid to highlight the eight million tonnes of plastic being dumped in the ocean each year. 

It was welcomed by the UN’s head of environment, Erik Solheim, who said that businesses recycling and reusing waste is “essential” to curb ocean pollution.

“Volvo’s move to integrate plastic waste into the design of their next fleet of cars sets a new benchmark that we hope others in the car industry will follow,” he said. “This is proof that this problem can be solved by design and innovation.”

A new life for old plastics

Volvo’s president and chief executive, Håkan Samuelsson, said the commitment evidences that the environment is one of the carmakers core values, citing the business’ existing commitments to electrify all vehicles produced post-2019 and ensure half of its new car sales globally are electric vehicles by 2025.

Samuelsson also highlighted that the 2025 deadline is the same timeframe in which Volvo has pledged to have climate-neutral manufacturing operations following the opening of its first climate-neutral engine plant in Skövde, Sweden, in January.

Between increasing consumer pressures and sluggish policy changes, corporates are being stretched to their limits to tackle the plastics problem.

Other organisations to make similar moves include Procter and Gamble (P&G), which earlier this year unveiled 100% recycled Fairy Liquid bottles; Adidas, which has sold more than one million pairs of ocean plastic trainers; and American Express, which last week unveiled an ocean plastic credit card.

Sarah George


Tags

| manufacturing | Plastics | waste management

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Waste & resource management
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