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How sustainable are car interior materials?

When it comes to the design and functionality of modern vehicles, the materials used in the interior play a crucial role. Among these materials, plastics are extensively utilised for their versatility, durability, and cost-effectiveness. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of automotive interiors and explore five types of plastics commonly used, shedding light on their characteristics and impact on sustainability.

  1. Polypropylene (PP): Lightweight and Resilient

Polypropylene is a widely employed plastic in automotive interiors due to its lightweight nature and resilience. Manufacturers often use PP for crafting various components such as dashboard trims, door panels, and seat structures. SABIC’s automotive dashboard plastics are known for their high quality. The main features of this textured and coated LEXAN™ film are its excellent dimensional stability and ductility. Its durability ensures a long lifespan for these components, contributing to the overall sustainability of the vehicle.

  1. Polyurethane (PU): A Luxurious Touch with Environmental Considerations

Polyurethane is a popular choice for enhancing the aesthetic appeal of automotive interiors. It is commonly found in seat cushions, armrests, and other upholstery components. Beyond its luxurious feel, manufacturers are increasingly adopting eco-friendly formulations of polyurethane, aligning with the growing demand for sustainable automotive solutions.

  1. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): Versatile and Cost-Effective

PVC is a versatile plastic that finds its way into numerous automotive interior applications. From floor coverings to seat coverings, PVC offers a cost-effective solution without compromising on durability. However, it’s crucial to note that the production and disposal of PVC can have environmental implications. As a conscious consumer, understanding the lifecycle of PVC products can aid in making environmentally friendly choices.

  1. Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS): Striking the Balance Between Strength and Aesthetics

ABS is a thermoplastic polymer known for its exceptional strength and impact resistance. It is commonly used in the manufacturing of interior trims, handles, and various other components where a balance between strength and aesthetics is paramount. Being recyclable, ABS contributes to a more sustainable automotive industry by reducing the environmental impact of plastic waste.

Polyethylene (PE): Eco-Friendly Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Polyethylene, known for its recyclability and low environmental impact, is gaining popularity in the automotive industry. It is used in applications such as storage bins, fuel tanks, and some interior trims. The move towards incorporating more polyethylene in automotive interiors reflects a commitment to eco-friendly practices, aiming to minimise the carbon footprint of vehicle manufacturing.


As we navigate the landscape of automotive interiors, understanding the types of plastics used is integral to making informed choices. Manufacturers are increasingly leaning towards sustainable solutions, utilizing plastics that not only enhance the driving experience but also contribute to a greener tomorrow. As consumers, being aware of the materials in our vehicles empowers us to support eco-friendly practices and demand sustainability from the automotive industry. By embracing innovations in plastic technology, we can drive towards a future where automotive interiors seamlessly blend comfort, style, and environmental consciousness.