Luxury-car interiors usually feature wood and leather, but Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is opting for something different—landfill waste.
The British automaker is the latest of several to begin using recycled materials for car interiors. JLR announced Tuesday that it will use Econyl nylon "to develop high-quality interiors from ocean and landfill waste."
Next-generation Jaguar and Land Rover models will have floor mats and trim pieces made from Econyl, which in turn is made from recycled industrial plastic, clothing offcuts, and fishing nets, according to the automaker.
Developed by nylon manufacturer Aquafil, Econyl reduces production-related emissions by 90% compared to conventional materials made from oil, according to JLR.
To turn old fishing nets and fabric scraps into car-interior materials, waste is broken down into a raw material using a chemical process called depolymerization. That raw material is then turned into yarn, which used in floor mats and other interior pieces. Byproducts are separated out for recycling.
Jaguar Land Rover interiors to be made with Econyl nylon
Automakers have been using small amounts of recycled plastic in car interiors for some time, although JLR is likely the first to specifically mention landfills as a source for the recycled material.
The Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV, as well as the gasoline-powered Land Rover Range Rover and Range Rover Evoque, already use Kvadrat, which incorporates 53 recycled plastic bottles per vehicle.
The 2021 Polestar 2 electric car features a standard vegan interior, and Polestar plans to expand use of sustainable and recycled materials in future models, including a natural fiber-based material made from flax. The BMW i3, meanwhile, already incorporates a plant-based material called Kenaf in its cabin.
As vehicles become more efficient, the environmental impact of materials and the manufacturing process will become a bigger part of a car's lifecycle carbon emissions. But it remains to be seen whether use of recycled materials will expand beyond floor mats and to entire vehicle interiors.