Jaguar Land Rover and partner BASF are studying a solution to face the plastic waste challenge.

Jaguar/Land Rover in partnership with the German company, Basf, for a better and more sustainable future. A pilot project called ChemCycling, devised by the British car producing company which, in conjunction with one of the world’s largest chemical companies, foresees plastic waste collection in order to turn it into a premium material for potential use in the brand’s future models. According to a study published in Science Advances in 2017, it is estimated that, in 2050, plastic waste will have globally exceeded 12 million tons. Nowadays not all that plastic can be recycled in the car industry and the main reason lies in the fact that a large number of parts have to meet the strict safety and quality standards required of the vehicles on which they are assembled.

A problem that is in urgent need of a solution. The basic concept is upcycling, or rather, a creative and ameliorative conversion process of waste raw materials and/or disused products into unprecedented objects that thus acquire new value. In this way, domestic plastic waste, destined for the incinerators or tips, are transformed into pyrolysis oil, a secondary crude material, by means of a thermo-chemical process. This oil is then fed into BASF’s production chain as a substitute for fossil resources. The final result is a premium material that replicates the performances and quality of “virgin” plastic. Just like traditional plastic, this material can also be tempered and coloured and can therefore be applied in the production of dashboards and the external surfaces of next generation Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles. So much so that the British car manufacturing Group is already working towards using this material on prototypes. To be more precise, JLR and BASF are currently testing the material in a Jaguar I-PACE prototype front-end carrier overmoulding to see if it meets the same strict safety requirements of the existing original part. While waiting for the outcome of the tests and considering the progress required to make the chemical recycling ready for the market, adopting the new material would give Jaguar Land Rover the chance to use recycled plastic on all of its models, without undermining quality and safety.

«Plastics are vital in car manufacturing» explains Chris Brown, Senior Sustainability Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, «and they have proven advantages during usage, but plastic waste is still a huge global challenge. The solution to this problem requires innovation and coordinated thinking among regulators, manufacturers and suppliers. We are gradually increasing the amount of recycled contents in our vehicles, eliminating single-use plastics from all our activities and reducing waste throughout product lifecycles. The partnership with BASF is just one of the ways in which we are advancing our efforts to operate in a circular economy». A further step towards Jaguar/Land Rover’s vision of a Destination Zero future. Care for an ecosystem that Jaguar/Land Rover has transformed into a commitment: it has already gone beyond its own 2020 target of Zero Waste to Landfill for operations in the United Kingdom removing 1.3 million square metres of plastic from its manufacturing lines and replacing 14 million single-use plastic items in its business operations.