Magna Introduces 100% Melt-Recyclable Foam for Seating

The foam and trim materials are made from PET, the key ingredient in many plastic beverage bottles.

A completed seat that includes Magna’s EcoSphere recyclable materials, including trim pieces and foam seat cushion, both made from PET. (Magna)

Magna last week announced the development of EcoSphere, which it calls an industry-first product that will prevent one category of material — seat foam padding and trim covers — from languishing in landfills and junkyards.

The seat foam is made from 60% recycled materials, but is 100% recyclable. It also meets all current OEM standards for durability. (Magna)

The company uses mono-material polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in its new 100% melt-recyclable foam and trim. The EcoSphere product line comprises trim materials, trim padding, structures and foam. Magna said in a release that the new product would meet all industry durability and appearance standards while reducing environmental impact.

“This product family enables our seating materials to be repurposed and reused in the creation of new polyester products, contributing to a circular economy approach,” said Carrie Young, chief engineer of seating innovation. “It offers automakers an opportunity to enhance sustainability without compromising on comfort, quality or performance.

Magna’s already-introduced EcoSphere Trim Foundation is laminated to the back of trim materials to provide support and a long-lasting appearance. To source 100% recycled materials for EcoSphere Trim Foundation (PET is the main ingredient of many plastic beverage bottles), Magna worked with the TWE Group specializing in textiles.

The EcoSphere trim material is 100% melt-recyclable, which will be a first for seats hitting scrap yards once it starts shipping in 2024. (Magna)

Magna’s Young said such easily recycled seating materials will be a first when cars made with it start hitting scrap yards. The first material will be delivered to OEMs in 2024.

According to the British Plastics Federation, PET materials are cheaper to manufacture than aluminum or glass, meaning there should always be a market for the eventually recycled seat material. PET is something of an all-star of recycling. According to Natural Mineral Waters Europe, a bottled-water industry group, “the market for recycled PET is limited only by the amount of material that is collected.