4 mins

Recycling plastic: point of view of Nicolas Chevallier 

Recycling plastic: point of view of Nicolas Chevallier 
#plastics #recycledmaterials #regulations #valuechain

Integrating recycled plastics into the production process is an opportunity for the automotive industry and an important part of the global commitment to decarbonization. In future years, promoting recycling channels will be crucially important. OPmobility is well placed to meet the targets it has set itself for incorporating recycled plastics into its solutions and products.

How can we meet the challenge of plastic recycling?

Our challenges: how to use less plastic, how to use it better and how to use it for longer.
Nicolas Chevallier, Sustainable Materials Project Director, OPmobility

Recycled plastic materials present vast opportunities for the automotive industry, thanks to their versatile properties and contribution to emissions reduction. So what are the challenges and opportunities for plastic recycling at OPmobility?

N. Chevallier: Intensifying our use of recycled materials will mean that we’ll be able to meet the challenges set by new regulations, as well as customer expectations around the use of green materials, and deliver the OPmobility decarbonization plan in parallel. Our challenges: how to use less plastic, how to use it better and how to use it for longer. Several initiatives support this ambition, including a project of European regulation requiring a minimum recycled materials content of 25% in the plastics used in cars by 2030. As things stand today, only 10% of the plastics used in cars has been recycled, which is still relatively low. Our central challenges are to develop materials that meet all quality and safety requirements, without excessively compromising competitiveness. We also need to promote vehicle end-of-life circularity by supporting the development of recycling channels.

Recycling channels are central to this issue, so what is the outlook for their future development?

N. Chevallier: While end-of-life vehicle recycling channels are relatively well developed in France and Western Europe, they primarily recover metals. So most of the recycled plastics we use today come from domestic and/or industrial waste, with far too little from end-of-life vehicles. The challenge is therefore to create a closed recycling loop, so that the plastic components of tomorrow’s vehicles are manufactured in part from plastics recycled from yesterday’s vehicles.

So how does OPmobility incorporate sustainably sourced materials - including recycled plastics - into its products?

N. Chevallier: OPmobility has been incorporating recycled plastics into its products for many years, and we intend to make greater use of them going forward. Over the past two years, we’ve been ramping up our efforts to help automakers meet their recycled plastics usage targets. More specifically, we have a partnership in place with TotalEnergies to develop high-performance recycled materials. Despite the technical challenges involved, we’ll be seeing the first production startups of fenders containing 25% recycled plastics as early as this year. The Materials teams for each OPmobility product line are already hard at work developing solutions that prioritize the use of recycled materials, but we’re also assessing the potential opportunities offered by biosourced products.

How is OPmobility helping to drive recycling initiatives forward within the automotive industry?

N. Chevallier: As a Tier 1 original-equipment manufacturer, OPmobility is a key link in the value chain, and we therefore want to play an active role in promoting recycling. We process materials in our own plants, and have a detailed understanding of how suitable they are for inclusion in our end products. We now need to share that knowledge with our partner automakers and materials developers to enable the use of recycled plastics and increase their level of inclusion in our products.

How can OPmobility take plastic automotive component recycling to a new level?

N. Chevallier: One of the difficulties in recycling plastics is the sheer diversity of the materials involved. In our industry, product design is incredibly complex, meaning that a broad range of materials is used in the fabrication of a single product. A fender can contain up to 10 different types of plastic! So if you want to recycle this product in the future, you’ll have to separate all those plastics from each other using processes that are complex and costly to implement. What we at OPmobility can do is to engage in a co-design process to design products that are simpler to recycle, use fewer materials and reduce the complexity of their assembly.

What are OPmobility’s targets for increasing its use of recycled materials?

N. Chevallier: The forthcoming European target of a 25% contribution from recycled plastics will not apply equally to all vehicle components. For exterior components, we will be able to achieve at least 25% by 2030, and probably more, while for tanks, we will be more limited, because of the safety aspects of these products. On other types of component, we are aiming for a recycled content of 30 to 40%, which I believe conveys the strength of our determination to take things to a new level and generate real momentum across the industry.


On the same topic, find out the complementary viewpoint from Raphaël Guastavi, Deputy Director of the Circular Economy Department at ADEME (the French Agency for Ecological Transition).

Print issue