Volvo Wants 25 Percent Recycled Plastics in New Cars by 2025

Automotive environmentalism isn't just about emissions.

Beginning in 2025, Volvo wants 25 percent of the plastics in every new car it makes to be recycled material. The Swedish automaker is attempting to take a wholistic approach to reducing the environmental impact of cars, beyond just cutting tailpipe emissions.

From dashboards to exterior trim, modern cars use a lot of plastic. Volvo believes recycled materials can substitute for the new plastics used in its cars, helping to decrease the environmental impact of the manufacturing process. To prove its point, Volvo unveiled an XC60 T8 plug-in hybrid with recycled materials in place of some stock plastic parts.

The crossover’s interior tunnel is made from renewable fibers and plastics from discarded fishing nets and maritime ropes, according to Volvo. The carpet contains fibers made from recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles and recycled cotton scraps from clothing manufacturers. The seat material was made using material PET plastic bottles as well. Old Volvo car seats were turned into sound-absorbing material, used under the hood.

The recycled-plastics demonstration car follows Volvo’s announcement that it will eliminate single-use plastics from all of its operations and events by the end of 2019. The automaker also operates what it claims is a climate-neutral engine factory in Sweden, meaning its carbon emissions are offset by environmental measures. Volvo wants to make all of its factories climate neutral by 2025. These efforts will increase the impact of Volvo’s ambitious electrification plans.

Last year, the automaker announced that it will offer only mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric powertrains in its new cars beginning in 2019. Last month, Volvo said it expects all-electric cars to make up 50 percent of its global sales by 2025. As tailpipe emissions decrease, emissions related to manufacturing and materials sourcing will account for a greater share of each Volvo’s carbon footprint. So Volvo’s newfound interest in recycled plastics is well timed.