As carmakers’ interest in more sustainable solutions grows, attention is also increasingly being directed at the auto interiors and the materials used in them.
While plastics are estimated to make up around 10 percent of the weight of a vehicle today, they account for some 50 percent of the volume. Quite a lot of that is found in the interior, in seats, upholstery, instrument panels, headliners, door panels, consoles and much more.
Automakers are increasingly looking at new alternatives to replace the use of conventional resins in these products.
Eastman Chemical Co. of Kingsport, Tenn., and Gruppo Maip, a leading international plastics formulator and compound producer based in Turin, Italy, have now announced a partnership aimed at formulating sustainable polymer solutions for these interior applications, enabling automakers to “meet their aggressive targets for sustainable content and replacement of petroleum-based materials,” said Eligio Martini, president of Gruppo Maip.
The companies will develop a portfolio of products based on raw materials derived from Eastman's advanced circular recycling technologies, of which there are currently two.
Eastman has launched a molecular recycling, carbon renewal technology (CRT) that breaks down post consumer non-polyester waste plastics into basic molecular building blocks and a polyester renewal technology that processes polyester plastic waste that into basic polymer building blocks.
From these building blocks, Eastman produces the next-generation circular materials Eastman Tritan Renew copolyester and Treva Renew engineering bioplastic, on which the new formulations will be based.
Tritan Renew is derived from Eastman's polyester renewal technology and delivers up to 50 percent certified recycled content diverted from post-consumer and postindustrial waste streams. It offers the same high performance as virgin plastics. Eastman certified recycled content is achieved through a mass balance allocation process certified by International Sustainability & Carbon Certification.
Treva Renew contains up to 48 percent bio-based content sourced from sustainably managed forests and is certified by the USDA's BioPreferred program. The material also incorporates recycled waste plastic material derived from Eastman’s carbon renewal technology, providing an additional 23 percent certified recycled content as an alternative to polycarbonate, ABS and PC-ABS.
"Through Eastman's circular recycling technologies, OEM manufacturers will now be able to specify content and recycled-content plastics in critical Class A components, such as molded-in-color interior trim,” Martini added.
Scott Ballard, Eastman’s vice president and general manager of specialty plastics called Gruppo Maip is the 'right strategic partner to help bring new sustainable polymer formulations to the automotive industry'.
“Together, we're looking forward to bringing a new level of sustainability to the automotive industry," he said.