A sustainable future is smart and recycled

Sustainability is not just a word for Škoda. It is a goal that motivates a number of processes in the company and its suppliers, both now and in the future.

29. 11. 2022

Did you know that just ten per cent of the world’s plastics are recycled? Or that today there is one kilogram of plastic waste in the oceans for every four kilograms of fish - and that parity will be reached by around 2050? 

There is still plenty of room for improvement. That’s why Škoda has announced its objectives and plans in this area: to consistently promote climate-neutral mobility by 2030; to halve the fleet’s CO2 emissions compared to 2020 by the same deadline; and to focus intensively on eMobility, climate-neutral production and reusable and recycled materials.

The Škoda Enyaq iV is just the start of Škoda’s electric car line.

eMobility and carbon neutrality

The direction is clear: Škoda will have three new all-electric models by 2026, with more to be added in the subsequent years. By 2030, the share of all-electric vehicles in the brand’s European sales is set to rise to more than 70 per cent. 

The Czech carmaker is also striving to achieve the maximum possible reduction in CO2 emissions throughout the entire production cycle. Škoda’s plants in India will be CO2 neutral in 2025. All three Czech factories have the same target by 2030, and one of them - the Vrchlabí plant - achieved this at the end of 2020.

Sustainable solutions for current and future vehicles

Škoda looks beyond its own backyard when it comes to sustainability. Working closely with partners, Škoda is developing sustainable technical solutions for current and future vehicles. This applies to the materials purchased as well as their production and transport. For the production of sustainable products, Škoda relies on suppliers who primarily use recycled and recyclable raw materials and have a low carbon footprint. In addition, the company engages in intensive and detailed discussions with its partners on innovative ideas for the future. Some examples can be found in this article.

Waste is also carefully managed at the Vrchlabí plant: since the beginning of 2019, all waste from the production process has been recycled either materially or thermally. The two other factories in the Czech Republic - Mladá Boleslav and Kvasiny - have been doing the same since the beginning of 2020.

Sustainability is also a motivation for innovations, such as the innovation that allows the paint shop to apply one of the four paint layers significantly thinner while maintaining the same quality and durability. This will save around 720 tonnes of paint per year in the Czech production plants.

See how it’s possible to save on material during painting:

Materials sustainability cycle

Recyclables, and even better those that have already been recycled - these are the materials that should be used as much as possible. This applies to the body, chassis and interior. Škoda has already achieved the incredible feat of recyclable materials making up over 85 per cent and reusable materials making up over 95 per cent of the car’s weight.

To give you an idea: in the Škoda Octavia, a significant share of the raw materials used today come from recycled materials. In addition to steel, aluminium and glass, this includes plastics and insulating materials such as chassis linings, wheel arches and boot liners.

The interior of the Vision 7S study features a plethora of "green” elements, such as the recycled plastic floor.

What other benefits will a car offer when it reaches the end of its life? Its metals are used to make new steel and aluminium for new castings. And plastics find a use at least in new everyday objects such as clothes hangers or flowerpots.

Greener tyres

One of the car parts where Škoda is working on sustainability is tyres. In the future, it will be possible to use a high proportion of sustainable materials for these parts, and tyres will be supplied with FSC certification if they meet strict quality and safety requirements. 

This is one reason why the carmaker is working closely with its partners. Continental, for example, offers tyres with a higher proportion of recycled material and is exploring the use of natural rubber from dandelions. Bridgestone already supplies lighter tyres with lower rolling resistance for the Enyaq iV.

New interior elements

“Mono-materials”, i.e. parts consisting of just one material, are the easiest and most efficient to recycle. They are used, for example, in interior linings, air ducts or as copper conductors in cable harnesses. These recycled materials are used in seat covers or carpets, for example. Due to the high technical requirements, most parts of a new car today are made from composite materials. An example is the door trim in the Octavia - half of the composite material is made from renewable raw materials. 

Models from the Enyaq iV electric family offer the largest quantity of “green" materials in their interiors.

One traditional material for the lining of various interior elements is animal skin. This too can be treated involving sustainable practices. Škoda uses olive leaf extract for tanning the leather for the Enyaq iV model range. Depending on the model, the leather can be found either exclusively on the centre part of the seat, or also on the steering wheel and gear lever and handbrake handle.

Otherwise, interior designers are increasingly turning to textile upholstery where leather is typically used, such as on the dashboard. Fabrics made from up to 85 per cent recycled PET bottles and 15 per cent natural wool are already available for the Enyaq iV and Karoq model ranges. These are processed into yarn after recycling. For the Lodge interior seat covers in the Enyaq iV model range, these yarns are combined with natural staple wool. 

Production of environmentally friendly woven fabrics for Škoda cars.

In addition, Škoda is working to develop sustainable materials with natural components that will also be used in mass production in the future. These include, for example, fibres made from sugar beet, which are a by-product of the sugar factory in Dobrovice near the Mladá Boleslav plant. Sugar beet fibres are used to produce filler for plastic parts. Engineers can also make use of sugar beet pulp: it is dyed using a special process to create design accents in the interior. But the future also belongs to the fibres of silvergrass (Miscanthus), for example, and experiments are also being made with rice husks and hemp, cork and coconut fibres.

Umbrellas and mattresses

As part of its quest to achieve maximum sustainability, the Czech carmaker even pays attention to what might seem like trivial details. An idea, a vision or intention, which is currently under evaluation: the next generation of umbrellas, which are one of the most famous Simply Clever elements in the interiors of cars from Mladá Boleslav, might be made entirely from recycled materials and their handle might be made from hemp fibres. Moreover, if the umbrella breaks, there might be an option to have it repaired and then reused by the Austrian manufacturer Doppler. And here’s one more example of a successful and innovative collaboration, this time with the Trèves Group: to obtain the material for car soundproofing, this multinational group cleans, disinfects and shreds old mattresses that would otherwise end up as landfill.

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