From seat belt to car seat: a story of Circular Economy in the automotive textile sector

Materials and Products

Almost all textiles in an automobile are not recycled. Centrocot is working on the DigiPrime project to make its contribution to solving this problem.

Around six million light vehicles are scrapped every year in the European Union. Much of the textile material inside is not recovered and ends up as Automotive Shredder Residue (ASR) or car fluff, that is fragments of mixed material that cannot be separated and are therefore useless as they are.

There are, however, ideas that give hope for the reduction of the environmental impact of end-of-life cars: this is the case of a French project that recycles seat belts to obtain a fabric suitable for making car seats.

A seat belt is a complex device, consisting of several mechanical parts and a textile webbing that surrounds the driver or passenger of the vehicle. The webbing is usually made of polyester, it must be very resistant to abrasion, it must be resistant to UV radiation and humidity, and it must have a low expansion to temperature variation. All these characteristics are also required for the seat fabric. For this reason, the project partners recover seat belt scraps and process them by carding.  The resulting material is spun together with PET from plastic bottles to create a 100% recycled seat fabric, using an almost entirely mechanical process. It is estimated that using this material can save 60% of CO2 emissions compared to ordinary car seats.

Centrocot is a partner in the DigiPrime Project, a Horizon 2020 project aimed at creating a digital platform to facilitate the creation of new circular economy businesses within the automotive sector. An idea such as the one described can be realised more quickly with the data and services made available by the platform.

For more information:

  • Ing. Roberto Vannucci – Multisectoral Research and Innovation Area

  • Dr. Francesco Dellino – Multisectoral Research and Innovation Area

Author: Francesco Dellino

Multisectoral Research and Innovation Dept.