Grupo Antolin has developed a car headliner substrate produced by thermoforming a polyurethane foam with materials from post-consumer plastic waste and used tires.
Antolin worked with BASF SE to develop the material's manufacturing process through chemical recycling. Antolin "validated and introduced" the part in a European electric vehicle "that has just been launched to the market," a Nov. 22 news release said.
The company declined to identify which car the headliner is being used in, in an emailed statement to Plastics News.
"Producing demanding applications for the automotive sector requires plastics that meet high quality requirements, often only met by virgin materials," Antolin said in the email. "Chemical recycling offers the unique opportunity to use recycled plastics like mixed plastic waste or end-of-life tires as feedstock for the production of such products whilst maintaining virgin quality."
"We are going one step further by deploying the strategy among our clients worldwide," Javier Blanco, Grupo Antolin's sustainability director, said in the release. "Our next project featuring recycled core PU foam will be unveiled in 2022, and it'll be manufactured using renewable electricity."
"This project is a step towards a more sustainable car interior trim and a huge leap for the wet PU technology," said Enrique Fernandez, advanced engineering director of overhead systems at Grupo Antolin.
The part looks and performs "exactly" like a standard headliner, the release said.
About 50 percent of the part's weight is recycled materials, it said. The project used residues, in the textile, core foam and plastic sunroof reinforcement frame, that can't be recycled in other ways "and would have been ultimately disposed in landfills … or natural habitats like oceans."
The process uses "pyrolysis oil from mixed plastic waste or end of life tire into BASF's Verbund production complex," Antolin told PN. "The share of recycled allocated material is to the manufactured products according to third-party audited mass balance approach."
The technology "has demonstrated to be the most competitive in terms of cost and quality, fulfilling at the same time the most demanding specifications from our clients," Fernandez added.