Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, announced this week its ambition that from 2025, at least 25 per cent of the plastics used in every newly launched Volvo car will be made from recycled material.
Volvo Cars also urged auto industry suppliers to work more closely with car makers to develop next generation components that are as sustainable as possible, especially with regards to containing more recycled plastics.
To demonstrate the viability of this ambition, the company has unveiled a specially-built 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 materials.
“Volvo Cars is committed to minimizing its global environmental footprint,” said Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO of Volvo Cars. “Environmental care is one of Volvo’s core values and we will continue to find new ways to bring this into our business. This car and our recycled plastics ambition are further examples of that commitment.”
The special XC60’s interior has a tunnel console made from renewable fibers and plastics from discarded fishing nets and maritime ropes. On the floor, the carpet contains fibers made from PET plastic bottles and a recycled cotton mix from clothing manufacturers’ offcuts. The seats also use PET fibers from plastic bottles. Used car seats from old Volvo cars were used to create the sound-absorbing material under the car bonnet.
“We already work with some great, forward-thinking suppliers when it comes to sustainability,” said Martina Buchhauser, Senior Vice President of Global Procurement at Volvo Cars. “However, we do need increased availability of recycled plastics if we are to make our ambition a reality. That is why we call on even more suppliers and new partners to join us in investing in recycled plastics and to help us realize our ambition.”
The recycled-plastics XC60 was revealed at the Ocean Summit during the Gothenburg Volvo Ocean Race stopover. The race’s focus on sustainability centers on a partnership with the United Nations Environment Clean Seas campaign, focusing on the call to action, ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’.
“Extensive recycling and reuse of plastic is vital to our efforts to turn the tide on plastic pollution,” said Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment. “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. This is proof that this problem can be solved by design and innovation.”
The recycled plastics ambition is the most progressive statement around the use of recycled plastic by any premium automotive manufacturer. It represents another demonstration of Volvo Cars’ commitment towards reducing its impact on the environment across all operations and products. Last month, Volvo Cars committed to eradicate single-use plastics across all its premises and events by the end of 2019.
In 2017, the company announced an industry-leading commitment to electrify all new Volvo cars launched after 2019. Last month, Volvo Cars reinforced this strategy, by stating that it aims for fully electric cars to make up 50 percent of its global sales by 2025.
In terms of operations, Volvo Cars aims to have climate-neutral manufacturing operations by 2025. In January this year, the engine plant in Skövde, Sweden, became its first climate-neutral facility.