JLR tests plastic recycling process that turns waste into premium materials

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Jaguar Land Rover is trialling an innovative recycling process that converts plastic waste into a new premium grade material that could be applied in future vehicles.

It’s estimated that the amount of waste plastic will exceed 12 million metric ton globally by 2050. Today not all of this plastic can be recycled for use in automotive applications – especially in vehicle parts that must meet precise safety and quality standards.

Working in conjunction with chemical company BASF, Jaguar Land Rover is part of a pilot project called ChemCycling that upcycles domestic waste plastic, otherwise destined for landfill or incinerators, into a new high-quality material.

The waste plastic is transformed into pyrolysis oil using a thermochemical process. This secondary raw material is then fed into BASF’s production chain as a replacement for fossil resources, ultimately producing a new premium grade material that replicates the high quality and performance of ‘virgin’ plastics. Importantly, it can be tempered and colored, making it the ideal sustainable solution for designing the next-generation dashboards and exterior-surfaces in Jaguar and Land Rover models.

Jaguar Land Rover and BASF are currently testing the pilot phase material in a Jaguar I-Pace prototype front-end carrier overmolding to verify it meets the same safety requirements as the existing original part.

Pending the outcome of the trials and progression in taking chemical recycling to market readiness, adoption of the new material would mean Jaguar Land Rover could use domestically derived recycled plastic content throughout its cars without any compromise on quality or safety performance.

Chris Brown, senior sustainability manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said, “Plastics are vital to car manufacturing and have proven benefits during their use phase. However, plastic waste remains a major global challenge. Solving this issue requires innovation and joined-up thinking between regulators, manufacturers and suppliers.

“At Jaguar Land Rover we are proactively increasing recycled content in our products, removing single-use plastics throughout our operations and reducing excess waste across the product lifecycle. The collaboration with BASF is just one way in which we are advancing our commitment to operating in a circular economy.”

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Rachel's career in journalism began around five years ago when she started working for UKi Media & Events, having recently graduated from Coventry University where she studied the subject. Her favourite aspect of the job is interviewing industry experts, including researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians, and learning more about the groundbreaking technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of the automotive and tire industries.

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