Grupo Antolin develops the first car headliner substrate made from plastic waste and used tires



Grupo Antolin develops the first car headliner substrate made from plastic waste and used tires

2021-11-22
  • The polyurethane (PU) headliner’s substrate is manufactured with a Wet PU process that involves materials made from urban & post-consumer plastic waste and end of life tires.
  • Towards more sustainable vehicle overheads, Grupo Antolin focuses on different methods and technologies to recycle interior trim parts.

Grupo Antolin presents the first headliner substrate produced by thermoforming a PU foam with materials made from urban & post-consumer plastic waste and end of life tires. Working with recycled materials is a natural step in the company’s commitment to develop a sustainable business. The aim is to reduce waste and energy consumption during manufacturing and to meet the demand for eco-friendly interiors, something increasingly valued in car buyers' choices.

The headliner part looks as a standard headliner and performs exactly the same (sustainability surge comes without any reduction in the physical properties of the headliner). This accomplishment has been possible thanks to a material’s manufacturing process developed by the partner BASF (by means of chemical recycling) that Antolin has validated and introduced in a fully electric European premium car that has just been launched to the market. Approximately 50% of the headliner weight is recycled. In this particular project, 100% of the textile, 70% of the core foam, and 70% of the plastic sunroof reinforcement frame have been obtained from residues that couldn’t be recycled in any other way and would have been, ultimately, disposed in landfills or, what is worse, in natural habitats, like oceans.

“This project is a step towards a more sustainable car interior trim and a huge leap for the Wet PU technology. A technology that 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”, says Enrique Fernandez, Advanced Engineering Director, Overhead Systems BU.

“We are going one step further by deploying the strategy among our clients worldwide. Our next project featuring recycled core PU foam will be unveiled in 2022 and it’ll be manufactured using renewable electricity. Our commitment is to reduce the generation of waste and emissions in all our production processes”, highlights Javier Blanco, Grupo Antolin’s Sustainability Director. These types of solutions are an example of the company's technological commitment to help its customers to develop more sustainable vehicles by reducing waste, weight and emissions.

This action is part of the Sustainability Master Plan that has been designed with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals' 2030 Agenda as a roadmap.

Mechanical recycling

As the leading overhead systems supplier, Grupo Antolin focuses on different methods and technologies to recycle interior trim parts as part of its objective to make a positive contribution to society and reduce carbon print. In this sense, mechanical recycling is another well-known procedure that helps to reintegrate plastic products into the production cycle. This is a mature technology that has founded many applications and it’s well integrated in the industrial processes. This type of recycling is currently being used with thermoplastic structures. With thermoset materials, mechanical recycling is not possible in many cases, though.

Antolin has developed technologies that allow to process a wider quality range of recycled plastic sources that are transformed into automotive parts using a process called Novaform. On the other hand, it has also introduced in serial production in Europe a method to recycle the thermoset run-offs and technical scrap from headliners and transform them into construction boards. These boards are currently being used in Europe, Africa, and South America. The product, branded Coretech, is capable of transforming a composite thermoset product (that couldn’t be recycled in other ways) into a board with outstanding insulation and endurance properties.

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