Automotive manufacturers are shifting away from traditional materials such as petroleum-based plastics to raw materials that are sourced responsibly. As a result, a new world of possibilities is unfolding around sustainability and mobility.
The focus on reducing carbon emissions is crucial, and concurrently, it is essential to place due emphasis on the incorporation of carbon-negative, sustainable materials from the beginning of the manufacturing process in car-making. The automotive industry is now firmly on the path and has made significant strides towards a carbon-neutral future, with many manufacturers already implementing sustainable materials.
A few from many examples that demonstrate the industry’s commitment include Tesla’s integration of recycled materials like aluminium and steel. Volvo’s new premium electric sub-brand uses carpets made from recycled fishing nets. It has produced seat covers with 3-D knitting, a process that weaves just enough fabric to eliminate waste. (The New York Times).
Ford on the other hand incorporated recycled plastic bottles into components of their F-150 pickup trucks, and Mercedes-Benz has also joined the sustainable materials movement by incorporating waste-based materials, such as UBQ™, into their vehicle components.
The Circle of Life
The future of automotive is heavily focused on circularity and environmentally friendly materials. Car manufacturers are pushing for innovation with materials that carry zero or even negative emissions and a positive environmental impact.
Engineers are working to create a “circle of life” for automobiles, where they are not only sustainable but also recyclable and waste-free. As the engines and battery packs continue to evolve, so do the thousands of components that make up a car, and this is only the beginning. With the rise of electric vehicles, there is a greater demand for sustainable materials to be used in every aspect of the supply chain.
Automotive Manufacturing Implementing Bio-Based Materials
Bio-based plastics in the automotive industry are expected to reach 1.4 million metric tons by 2027. (Source: Grand View Research).
Automotive manufacturers are increasingly turning to bio-based materials to reduce their reliance on oil-based plastics. “UBQ™ has proven its utility and value as the missing link between waste disposal through to new product manufacturing, helping transform a linear extraction and consumption system into a truly circular economy” (Forbes).
Mercedes-Benz has taken a step forward in this movement with its latest electric model, VISION EQXX, which uses UBQ™, a revolutionary bio-based thermoplastic made from landfill waste.
UBQ Materials is unique because it diverts unsorted household waste, including all organics, from landfills and converts it into a sustainable substitute for traditional plastics. The use of UBQ™ in the new Mercedes-Benz model is a testament to the growing trend of companies using innovative, eco-friendly materials to reduce their carbon footprint and achieve their climate goals.
Automotive Manufacturing Implementing Plastic Alternatives
Plastic alternatives in automotive manufacturing have a detailed history; one of the earliest examples is the soybean car Henry Ford introduced in 1941. The car’s body was made entirely of bioplastics, a much lighter and safer material than traditional steel.
Ford was onto something back then, as today, we have many plastic alternatives that can be used in automotive manufacturing and other industries. By embracing these materials, we can move towards a prosperous future where modern life works in harmony with the environment.
Automotive manufacturers, including Range Rover and Jaguar, have used plastic alternatives such as rattan for various automotive parts. Key parts include headliners, carpets, seat foam and door panels (Source: The New York Times).
Automotive Manufacturing Implementing Recycled Materials
Car manufacturers constantly seek new solutions, such as reclaimed wood and “vegan” leather, to create sustainable solutions. They have now turned their attention to plastic waste from the ocean.
These materials are being transformed into components such as seat cushions, floors, door panels, and dashboard trims. By finding new uses for these materials, manufacturers are making progress in meeting the growing demand for sustainable transportation.
German automaker Audi is at the forefront of this movement with their commitment to becoming net CO2 neutral by 2050. A vital component of this goal is their use of recycled materials, such as PET bottles, to produce their vehicles. In particular, the fourth generation A3 car boasts an impressive 89% recycled polyester yarn in its seats, a concrete example of Audi’s commitment to its sustainability goals.
Benefits of Automotive Manufacturing Sustainability
Reduced Environmental Impact
Sustainable automotive manufacturing reduces the environmental impact of the industry. By using climate-positive materials to reduce carbon emissions, waste and water usage, leading brands are getting closer to a closed-loop production process.
Sustainable manufacturing practices can also lead to cost savings for automotive manufacturers. Companies can reduce their operating costs and increase profitability with smart, circular design, minimizing waste, reducing energy usage, and improving efficiency.
Adopting sustainable manufacturing practices can improve the reputation and competitive advantage of automotive manufacturers as consumers and stakeholders increasingly prioritize sustainability. This can lead to increased brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.
As environmental impact and sustainability regulations become more stringent, adopting sustainable manufacturing practices can help automotive manufacturers ensure compliance with these regulations while undergoing a smooth transition.
Sustainable manufacturing practices can also drive innovation in the automotive industry. By investing in research and development of sustainable materials and technologies, companies can develop new products and processes that were never even considered before.
Sustainable Materials in Automotive Sector
Sustainable materials, which are often made from renewable resources, biodegradable, recycled and recyclable materials, offer a solution that benefits both people and the planet. They reduce carbon emissions, conserve natural resources, and minimize waste.
By using sustainable practices and choosing to use sustainable materials, this powerful industry can have a significant impact in the fight against climate change and in creating a more resilient, sustainable future.
From materials such as recycled plastic to bio-based thermoplastics, car companies are exploring new ways to reduce the environmental impact of their vehicles. Additionally, there has been a push towards designing lighter cars, which require less energy to move and reduce the amount of material needed. It’s clear that the future of car manufacturing lies in finding environmental solutions, and companies that can adapt and innovate in this space will be at the forefront of circular design and sustainable innovation.
Applied in the automotive industry, UBQ Materials offers a commendable solution. The UBQ™ material is manufactured entirely from unsorted household waste, including organics and unrecyclable materials. Beyond reducing crude-oil dependence, UBQ™ tackles the waste crisis and helps brands and manufacturers reduce emissions and achieve their sustainable development goals.