Unique collaboration supports Volvo Cars to recycle more plastic


Volvo Cars has an ambition to by 2025 use at least 25 % recycled plastics in all its vehicles. Volvo Cars, component manufacturers and Stena Recycling are collaborating in a new Vinnova financed project.

- Suitable plastics, volume securing, quality and choice of components are some important aspects to start with, explains David Karis at Stena's R&D department.

- The fact that we sit and work together is unique, but also vital to the project. It’s a provision so that we in the future will achieve the right quantities and qualities. The joint commitment to the programme is very inspiring, says Sandra Tostar, Polymer material specialist at Volvo Cars.

Volvo Cars announced in June 2018 that the company will use at least 25 % recycled plastic in cars and packaging by no later than 2025. At the Volvo Ocean Race the same year, the company exhibited a specially assembled Volvo XC60. It had several components made from recycled plastics. Stena Recycling contributed with a noise insulation for the engine room, made from insulation from old Volvo car seats. In just half a year, Volvo Cars produced 170 components of recycled plastics for the concept car.

- It is possible to work fast. We have learned a lot from new partnerships both within Volvo Cars and with suppliers. Now we work with even more components made of recycled plastics. New parts are constantly certified, the concept car work process has supported a lot, Sandra Tostar explains.


A growing market in recycling

In a Volvo car there are some 360 kilos of plastics, used to make hundreds of components. The material has many important properties, not least to keep down both the weight of the car and fuel consumption.

- The market for recycled plastics is in strong growth. Some of the main challenges are to secure enough volumes of plastic, with the properties and quality that meets Volvo Cars' high demands, says David Karis.
New projects and networks such as the project "Implementing recycled plastics in vehicle components" are important in meeting these challenges. Possible sources of material are an important part of the project as well as the mechanical properties of the plastic. Will the colour last and will surface quality be adequate? Can the plastic age well, for how long?
- Working with recycled materials is a natural step since electrification of vehicles makes the use phase less dominant regarding greenhouse gas emissions. It is evidently a mindset shift, where sustainability is important and more valued in car buyers' choices, Sandra Tostar adds.


New plastics recycling processes

Stena Recycling develops various processes to recycle more plastics. A new soft plastic recycling facility (LDPE) is in operation in Halmstad since the autumn 2018. During the spring of 2019 the company is opening a new recycling line for clean hard plastics from electronic waste, including ABS used in cars. Plastics from the company's recycling of end-of-life cars and hard plastic from packaging also has the potential to be used in future vehicle components.

The pre-study runs until August 2019 and is project-led by RISE IVF (former Swerea IVF). In addition to Volvo Cars and Stena Recycling, the project also includes IAC Group Sweden AB, KB Components and Plastal AB.


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