Deeply committed to a strategy of increasing integration of recycled materials into its vehicles, Groupe Renault has initiated in 2015 a project called “àfiler” (“to thread”) alongside Filatures du Parc, a spinning mill in the Tarn region of France, and Adient Fabrics, an automotive seat supplier in Ariège, France, to design a unique textile product made exclusively from recycled materials.
Thanks to the traditional know-how of carded yarn and co-developed innovations, this textile product made from safety belts, textile scrap from the automotive industry and polyester fibers from the recycling of plastic bottles (PET) – now covers the interior of the New Renault ZOE, Iconic finishes.
The fabric covering a total area of 8 m² is used for the manufacture of seat covers, dashboard coverings, gear lever brackets and door fittings, and meets the high requirements for comfort, cleaning, UV resistance and durability.
The supply and short loop manufacturing of this recycled carded yarn – without chemical or thermal transformation – reduces associated CO2 emissions by more than 60% compared to the previous ZOE fabric from a standard manufacturing process.
Developed in the 15th century, the textile, clothing and leather industries are an integral part of the economic heritage of the Occitania region, France, particularly in Tarn and Ariège. In an extremely challenging context, the development of new textile products that are technical, sustainable and competitive is a real growth lever for the region’s players and an opportunity to position themselves on new markets, secure jobs and develop new skills.
In this perspective, the “àfiler” project received the support of the Ademe and the Occitania Region, as well as the support of ENSAIT (National High School of textile arts and industries) in Roubaix to consolidate the research and technical validation of this new textile product.
Focus on the industrial process:
Collect and supply
Renault Environment, a Groupe Renault subsidiary dedicated to the circular economy and created in 2008, collects materials intended for a second life, such as scraps of safety belts and scrap from the manufacture of virgin fabrics for the automotive sector.
Manufacture of recycled carded yarn
For the manufacture of the yarn, the Group relies on the Filatures du Parc, a company based in Brassac in the Tarn region. Thanks to the financial and technical support on this project, Les Filatures du Parc have been able to develop a new industrial defibering line adapted to the robustness of safety belts, an essential step in preparing raw materials and optimizing fiber length.
Once cut and shredded, the belt and textile fibers are mixed with polyester fibers from plastic bottles that guarantee the cohesion of the fibers, before undergoing a series of carding operations. Derived from the term “thistle” or spicy spiky plant, the traditional carding technique makes it possible to obtain a new weaving yarn thanks to a system of drums lined with very fine steel tips rotating at high speed. This know-how thus makes it possible, without chemical or thermal transformation, to disentangle and then divide, to stretch, then align parallel and finally to twist the fibers cleared of impurities.
This 100% recycled carded yarn has been patented jointly by Groupe Renault with Filatures du Parc.
Weaving and fabric production before assembly
Adient Fabrics, a weaver and supplier of 1 in 3 automotive seats in the world, receives the reconstituted yarn on reels at its Laroque d’Olmes site (Ariège), located only 120 km from the spinning mills, to weave and produce the automotive fabric, upholstery and interior trim for the vehicles.
Groupe Renault, a pioneer and leader in the circular economy
In addition to recycled fiber, Groupe Renault is rolling out many material loops, particularly for copper, plastic, platinoids and ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The New ZOE also incorporates 17.5kg of recycled plastic, some of which is used for the first time in the range in visible parts in the passenger compartment, such as low polypropylene interior cabinetry.
Through Renault Environment and its subsidiary Gaia in particular, Groupe Renault also develops a whole range of activities in the circular economy, such as the treatment of end-of-life vehicles (through its subsidiary Indra in partnership with Suez), the recovery of metals (Bonne Comenor, also a joint venture with Suez), the repair, reconditioning or recycling of electrical batteries, and remanufacturing (renovation of mechanical parts and various used components) in the Choisy-Le-Roi plant.