This isn't your typical neighborhood recycling program.
According to Reuters, Volvo has pledged that by the year 2025, at least 25 percent of the plastics in its cars will be sourced from recycled materials. "Volvo Cars is committed to minimizing its global environmental footprint," said CEO Hakan Samuelsson. Furthermore, the Chinese-owned automaker believes this approach "makes business sense." For example, recycled plastics can come from fishing nets, bottles, or even straws. The recycled material is expected to find its way into dashboards and carpets.
The automaker is already in discussions with plastic producers on how it can best achieve its recycled material plan. At the moment, Volvo cars consist of roughly five percent recycled plastics, so boosting that figure an additional 20 percent in about six years is quite a challenge. But how will those recycled plastics actually become relevant components? The carpet, for example, will have fibers made from PET plastic bottles. We expect other automakers to follow in Volvo's footsteps because not only does recycling generate good PR, but, in reality, there's a ridiculous amount of used plastic out there. More than eight millions tons of used plastics are dumped into the oceans every year, causing serious damage to coral reefs and outright killing marine life.
"As far as we are aware this is a first – an attempt to source waste as a raw material for a new vehicle," Erik Solheim, head of the U.N. Environment Program in Nairobi, told Reuters. "We need to see a situation in which plastic waste begins to have more value and the processes to transform it into something new will also advance," he said.