Polyurethane (PU) is one of the important plastics used in automotive interior, especially in seat foam pads and acoustic damping. I spoke at the recent Europur & Euro-Moulders Conference in Berlin, Germany. The conference discussions reflected the tremendous importance of sustainability, as plastics represent about 12 to 15 per cent of a car’s weight, with 150-200 kg of plastic per car. And there’s great diversity plastics in a car; VW cites 39 different kinds of plastic—even if 70 per cent of the plastics content is polypropylene (PP); polyurethane (PU); polyamide (Nylon), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
PU is the raw material of choice for seating and acoustic interior application, and it is likely to remain so. Its future in a world increasingly driven to minimize waste and pollution and maximize sustainability relies on higher use rate of bio-based materials (bio-polyol) and recycling. It’s a challenge the whole industry is working on, and it applies not just to PU but to all automotive plastics, and the challenge is multidimensional. For example, bio-polyol’s sustainability profile is very different if it’s made from crop byproducts and waste products, versus if it’s made from plants grown on land which would have been more appropriately used to feed humans.
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