Jaguar Land Rover has announced the trial of a new recycling process that turns plastic waste into the premium materials required for the company’s luxury cars.

At present, the British car manufacturer says not all waste plastic can be recycled for automotive use - thanks in part to the exacting safety standards to which car makers must adhere. However, working in partnership with German chemical firm BASF, the company is embarking on a pilot project that aims to take domestic waste plastic that would otherwise be burned or become landfill, and make it into car parts.

The process involves turning the plastic into pyrolysis oil using a thermochemical process. This material is then fed into BASF’s production chain as a replacement for fossil resources to produce a new premium grade that replicates the quality of ‘virgin’ plastics. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) says the finished product can be tempered and coloured in order to create bumpers or dashboard parts.

Front end carrier illustration

JLR and BASF are currently exploring the possibility of using the process to create a front end carrier overmoulding for an I-Pace electric SUV. The two companies are testing the prototype product to ensure it meets the same stringent safety standards as the original part. Should the trial be successful, JLR says adoption of the new materials throughout its range without compromising “quality or safety performance”.

I-Pace Crash

Chris Brown, the senior sustainability manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said the trial was part of the company’s plans to cut waste and increase use of recycled materials.

“Plastics are vital to car manufacturing and have proven benefits during their use phase, however, plastic waste remains a major global challenge,” he said. “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 across 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.”

Jose Mourinho visits F-Pace factory

The news follows several eco-friendly initiatives by the car maker, including a project to create a sustainable upholstery for the Range Rover Velar and Evoque premium SUVs. The material, created in collaboration with Kvadrat, mixes a wool blend with a technical suedecloth made from 53 recycled plastic bottles per vehicle. JLR says it has also met its target for zero landfill waste by 2020, having removed more than a million square metres of plastic from its production lineside and cutting single-use plastics in its business operations.