Plastics in passenger cars - A comparison over types and time

The automotive industry uses almost ten percent of all plastics in Europe. To map the potential recyclable plastic material available for recycling today and into future years, this study has analyzed the history of plastics in cars, as well as several factors that may affect the plastics content in cars to be recycled.


This study compared plastics content in passenger cars. It concluded that there has likely been no change in passenger cars’ plastics share in the past twenty years and the next five years will likely tell a similar story.

Three methods were used to estimate the future trends for plastics content in cars.

The first was a literature review. This data showed a slight increase of plastic material shares in some sources, but the transparency of data selection, material categorization (what is a “plastic”), and calculation methods left us questioning its legitimacy.

The second method was based on our own selection of cars representing the Swedish car fleet with A2mac1 vehicle breakdown data for each model. Since we controlled more variables in this data, we were more convinced of its legitimacy. The results show that there has been no change in plastics fraction in cars for each separate driveline in the past twenty years.

The third method was using Volvo car material data compiled from each model’s numerous part suppliers for a single production year, to compare to the other methods.

The study was conducted as part of the project Explore in the research program Closing the Loop, funded by Mistra.

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