(Photo credit: Audi)

rPET application

Audi - From bottle to fabric: PET seat cover

Ingolstadt, Germany

  • New Audi A3 with a sustainable interior concept
  • Up to 45 PET bottles of 1.5 liters per seating system can be used
  • Many other components made from secondary raw materials

The fashion industry produces jewelry, clothes and bags from PET bottles. Furniture is also increasingly made up of material residues such as shredded paper, plastic bottles and wood shavings. Audi is now offering seat covers made from recycled material for the new A3 for the first time.

Sustainability is a central pillar of the Audi corporate strategy. This applies to both technology and manufacturing processes. Seat covers made from secondary raw materials are used for the first time in the fourth generation of the Audi A3. Up to 89 percent of the textile used consists of recycled PET bottles that are processed into yarn in a complex process.The result is fabrics that visually and haptically guarantee the same quality standards as classic textile covers.

From old to new

The bottle disappears in the hole of the deposit machine - the customer in Germany gets 25 cents. But what happens then? The disposable bottles for truck transport are still pressed to save space. When they arrive at the recycling plant, they are sorted according to color, size and quality. Foreign matter such as the caps are separated. A mill then crushes the bottles into so-called flakes, which are washed, dried and melted down. Nozzles form endless long plastic strands from the mass. After cooling, a machine chops them into small pieces. The result is granulate, the so-called recyclate, which is processed into threads by extrusion. Finally, they are wound on bobbins for the production of fabrics.

More than 100 PET bottles in an A3

A total of up to 45 1.5-liter PET bottles are used per seating system. There are also a further 62 PET bottles that have been recycled for the carpet in the new Audi A3. Other interior components also increasingly consist of secondary raw materials, such as insulation and damping components, the side panels of the trunk, the loading floor and the insert mats. The goal is clear: the proportion of recyclates in the Audi fleet should increase significantly in the next few years.The premium brand will continue to offer its customers high-quality products.

The seat covers are not yet made entirely of recyclable material. “The challenge is the bottom fabric, which is connected to the upper with adhesive. We are working on replacing this with recyclable polyester too, ”says Ute Grönheim, who is responsible for material development at Audi at Textiles. “Our goal is to manufacture the seat cover completely from pure material so that it can be returned to the cycle. We are not far from that. ”In the future, all fabric covers across all model series will be made of recycled material.

Three recyclate covers on offer

There are three different fabric designs for the Audi A3, which contain up to 89 percent recycled material. On the one hand, this is the steel-gray fabric "Torsion" for the Design Selection, on which yellow contrasting seams set visual highlights. The fabric "Pulse" is also available. In the S line it has the color combination black and silver and is accentuated by rock gray contrast stitching. Later it follows in black and red with red contrast stitching. In the respective equipment line, these designs form the basic offer and are combined with side panels made of synthetic leather. 

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