As the broader auto industry makes the shift to electric vehicles, including GM, more and more companies are now exploring new methods and technologies to lower their overall environmental impact. That includes Magna International, which just unveiled its EcoSphere product family of fully recyclable seating material. The new material is pegged as the industry’s first 100-percent melt recyclable seat foam and trim.
To note, GM recognized Magna with its 2022 Supplier of the Year award back in March.
The new Magna EcoSphere product family utilizes mono-material polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, which has to potential to eliminate the disposal of seating foam pads and trim covers. The material provides a sustainable solution for trim materials, trim padding, structures, and seat foam, and is said to “significantly” reduce the overall environmental impact of vehicle seating compared to traditional materials.
“As a top priority for our stakeholders, we recognize the need for innovative solutions that minimize environmental impact,” said Magna Chief Engineer, Seating Innovation, Carrie Young. “This unique product family enables our seating materials to be repurposed and reused in the creation of new polyester products, contributing to a circular economy approach. Our technology offers automakers a game-changing opportunity to enhance sustainability without compromising on comfort, quality or performance.”
Per a report from Automotive News, which cites Magna, the average vehicle contains roughly 45 pounds of foam and trim. Assuming roughly 10 million vehicles are thrown away in the U.S. every year, roughly 430 million pounds of foam and trim are effectively thrown away as well.
Every component in the Magna EcoSphere line of products, including foam pads, trim, hooks, adhesives, threads, and padding, are made from the same PET material, which makes the seats easier to disassemble and recycle at the end their life cycle. The material can then be melted down and reused for other purposes, closing the loop in recyclability.
Magna has partnered with multinational technical textile manufacturer TWE Group to source the recycled materials for use in the EcoSphere line of products. The first EcoSphere products are expected to come to market in 2026.