Auto manufacturer Audi has launched recycled plastic covers for seatbelt buckles in its Q8 e-tron models.
The casings are partially manufactured from mixed automobile plastic waste using a chemical recycling process. It is the first time the company is installing safety components made in this way. In conjunction with the PlasticLoop project, the auto maker has established a process with plastics manufacturer LyondellBasell, based on the findings from a pilot project.
Plastic components that are beyond repair are first stripped from customer vehicles, freed of foreign materials such as metal clips, before being broken down into smaller pieces, and processed into pyrolysis oil by means of chemical recycling. This oil is then used as a raw material for the manufacture of new plastics, harnessing a mass balance approach. The plastic granulate obtained is used in the production of Q8 e-tron seatbelt buckle covers.
At least 70% of the plastic granulate for the seatbelt buckle covers (including fillers and additives) consists of the pyrolysis oil produced through the project. This pyrolysis oil is added to the plastic granulate during the manufacturing process. The assignment of the waste-based pyrolysis oil to the plastic granulate is carried out within the framework of a mass-balance approach with a qualified credit transfer. Ecocycle, an independent external certification agency, confirms that the project members have replaced the amounts of fossil resources required for the seatbelt buckle covers with pyrolysis oil produced from mixed automotive plastic materials. It is intended to provide sufficient pyrolysis oil in the above-mentioned volumes for the entire production run of the Q8 e-tron on the basis of currently planned production figures.
Through this process, the automotive manufacturer, together with the other project participants, recover a flow of materials that are usually only suitable for energy recovery. This operation will enable Audi to use fossil raw materials for longer and reduce its purchasing of additional primary materials for the Q8 e-tron accordingly. According to Audi, the materials produced from the pyrolysis oil are of the same standard as newly manufactured goods and offer identical technical characteristics.