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The road to biomaterials

~ How biopolymers will reduce plastic production in the automotive industry ~

There are approximately 960,000 Ford Fiesta’s registered on Britain’s roads. Each of these cars requires 100 gallons or more of crude oil to manufacture the plastic in the car’s interior, bodywork, crumple zones and engine components. What’s more, this plastic will still be around long after the car has reached the end of its useful lifetime. Here Duncan Clark, head of operations at biopolymer research company Teysha Technologies, explains how automakers can overcome this problem by switching to tuneable bioplastics.

With many carmakers switching to EV production, significant gains are being made in making the automotive industry more sustainable. However, the 120 kilograms of plastic going into manufacturing every car will outlive the vehicle by about 380 years. This poses the question: is the investment in the car worth the environmental cost of producing this much plastic?

Plastics are used by carmakers because they are lightweight, versatile and durable. For example, the plastics in a Ford Fiesta will be used to improve passenger and driver comfort and enhance the safety of the vehicle. Plastic also reduces vehicle weight, improving the overall fuel economy. But this does not counteract the resource-intensive process of manufacturing plastic, and carmakers should now be investigating sustainable polymer alternatives.

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