As the concern regarding the environment grows and more people are seeking sustainability, plastics are coming under fire. Concerns about single use plastics ending up in landfills and waterways are absolutely valid, and limiting those plastics is beneficial, but not all plastics are harmful. In fact, we create custom plastics used in cars through automotive injection molding and thermoforming that minimize a vehicle’s impact on the environment.

Plastics Reduce Fuel Usage

For decades, cars were primarily made from steel and metal, from their door handles to the trunk tubs. Consider how many pounds a metal trunk, door handle, or bumper would weigh and how that would slow a car down when it tried to accelerate or maintain speed! Today many of those parts have been replaced with thermoplastic material that can be molded to improve aerodynamics as well as reduce the weight. In fact, 50 percent of a vehicle is made of plastic, but those materials only contribute to about 10 percent of its weight.

Less weight and improved aerodynamics minimize the strain on the vehicle’s engine while offering a large increase in gas mileage, and this can be done without negatively affecting performance, safety, or functionality.

Plastic Car Parts Increase Lifespan

Not only does a lighter vehicle reduce the strain on the engine, it’s also easier on the brakes, transmission, and other systems (after all, a heavier vehicle is harder to stop due to inertia!). When these components last longer, that equals fewer car parts and whole vehicles ending up in a junkyard or a landfill.

While the reduced weight from using plastics is an excellent improvement in vehicle’s sustainability, that’s not all they do. Plastics are incredibly durable and resistant to UV damage don’t degrade or break down due to temperature changes, moisture, or exposure to salt used on icy roads. Not only do those parts hold up, but plastics are also used to shield more delicate components like cables and wires. Again, these keep vehicle parts working longer and out of the junkyard.

Automotive Plastics Are Recycled More Often

Vehicles’ longer life spans can be attributed to improvements in technology and using plastics, but eventually, all vehicles “retire” eventually, and about 12 million a year reach their “end of life.” Years ago, once a car or truck was no longer operable and was scrapped, only steel, rubber, and glass components were recycled and reused. Anything plastic ended up in a junkyard or landfill because there were concerns about chemical damage, odors, or fillers within the plastic that couldn’t be recycled.

Today, improvements in recycling methods that make it possible to remove odors, process out fillers, and clean any residues mean manufacturers can give new life to blended plastics, filters, and even battery components and fluid tanks.

Today’s Cars Are Made From Recycled Plastics

In addition to the car parts being recycled when they’re no longer used, now more recycled plastics are being turned into car parts. Manufacturers know the importance of improving the sustainability of their cars and reducing waste, and one way is to use recycled materials in the vehicles.

● About 180,000 pounds of recycled polyurethane foam is saved from a landfill to be used in Jeep Grand Cherokees.

● Jeep Wrangler and Chrysler 200 wheel liners are made from 64 percent recycled plastic.

● Recycled soft drink bottles comprise the seats installed in both the Nissan Leaf and Ford Fusion Energy.

● Mitsubishi I-Miev is built with recycled polypropylene, primarily in the electric car’s bumpers, instrument panel, and door trim.

We understand the importance of keeping plastics out of landfills and waterways, we are proud to play a role in improving sustainability and making vehicles more eco-friendly by designing and manufacturing custom automotive plastics.

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