Use of recycled materials in ŠKODA cars: No Plastic Waste at All

Use of recycled materials in ŠKODA cars: No Plastic Waste at All

INNOVATION

ŠKODA is continuously striving to increase the proportion of recyclable materials in its vehicle designs. Since they are subject to the same quality requirements as new materials, their introduction is preceded by extensive research.

2. 6. 2020

In the past, people would spend a lot of money on developing plastics with excellent and diverse properties. „However, improving their recycling and re-use technologies was not the main priority,” says Jan Sláma, the Technical Development employee in charge of the development of materials and their durability.

“We have to make sure that our choice of material does not limit the functionality of any part,” continues Radka Kubínová from the same department. Therefore, recycled materials are mainly used in places where the part is subject to less stringent requirements. They are used to good effect on wheel arches, for example, or on chassis impact guards.

Jan Sláma
Technical Development employee, ŠKODA

Covers under wipers made from batteries

But they can also be used for more demanding applications, such as covering the scuttle drain, which is the drainage channel beneath the windscreen frame, or in future for panelling the luggage compartment. Recycled materials result, for example, from unused parts produced during our parts production (post-industrial recycled materials). The recycling of old parts also processes materials that have been used once (post-consumer recycled materials); however, in this case, they are usually not 100 percent recycled.

“They must be supplemented with some new substances, and every production batch must be perfectly watched. One example includes plastic covers under wipers whose production included 50 percent of battery packs”, explains Lukáš Zuzánek, another member of the materials development team.

Lukáš Zuzánek
Technical Development employee, ŠKODA

Owing to its properties, plastic is irreplaceable in the automotive industry. It has pushed out metal, contributed to lower car weights and reduced CO2 production and fuel consumption.

Wider use in the interior

Incorporating recycled materials into the car interior is a more complicated step due to the strict emissions and odour requirements. PET bottle recycling technologies have proved successful in the production of floor carpet and trunk flooring. Recycled textiles are used for floor damping.

“However, in the case of polypropylene, the use of recycled materials is more difficult because the materials degrade by their subsequent processing. We must either have a source of sufficient quality or apply, for example, a chemical recycling method,” says Kubínová, adding that new challenges include devising ways to increase the proportion of these materials in the car interior.

Other possibilities are under development, such as fibres obtained from unused portions of coconut, flax, beet or coffee grounds that would serve as plastic fillers. All this occurs in order to conserve natural resources and use waste material.

Post-Industrial Recycled Materials

The production of plastic parts generates unusable pieces and items that used to be discarded in the past. Today, they are used for recycled materials production. They have an advantage because of their clear source of materials, which can be used completely from scratch.
 


 

Post-Consumer Recycled Materials

The recycling of old plastic parts processes materials used in the past. The advantage lies in the sufficient and cheap resource that would otherwise end up in landfills. However, its mechanical properties are worse than those of new materials.

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