Person holding onto a steering wheel driving along a tree lined road

EcoSphere™: Simple, Smart and Sustainable Seating Technology

Drawing inspiration from the wisdom of our grandparents and the evolving trends in the bedding industry, we have developed Magna's EcoSphere™ product family. This groundbreaking innovation in automotive seating aims to safeguard our planet by revolutionizing the recycling process of these complex and sizable components.

Sustainability was built into the lives of previous generations. Most families had their own vegetable gardens or sourced produce from local farmers. Canning was popular, and vacations meant trips to local attractions, not long-distance travel. As a result, our ancestors’ carbon footprint was minimal, and individual choices compounded over time into collective action. Adopting this attitude of simplicity is key as we create new technologies for the auto industry.

Moreover, the transformative advancements in mattress materials led by industry leaders prompted our experts to delve deeper – and even required testing some new beds. It turns out mattresses made of easily recyclable material are just as durable and comfortable as those using traditional materials like polyurethane, which are more expensive and difficult to recycle.

These small, but significant insights led us to breakthroughs in seating technology.

Seats contribute to the landfill problem due to their composition of various polymers and materials, such as polyurethane, nylon, vinyl, and adhesive. Unfortunately, these materials are challenging to separate efficiently at the end of their lifecycle. Engineers like to describe seats as a “Frankenstein” mix because they are reminiscent of the monster made from old body parts and strange chemicals.

Products that make up the EcoSphere seat

This is a concern when you consider that the global auto industry produces more than 150 million seats a year. The steel structures they sit on are recycled, but the soft material is challenging to take apart.

With EcoSphere, we’ve eliminated the need to take the trim and foam apart to recycle because they are made from a single material.

That material is PET, short for polyethylene terephthalate, a type of clear, strong, lightweight and 100% recyclable plastic commonly used to make water bottles. We call our technology 100% Melt Recyclable Foam and Trim because it has similar properties to polyurethane, but it can be melted and used again and again to make more automotive seat components or other consumable goods such as clothing. In addition, it has half the carbon footprint of polyurethane. An added bonus: PET is affordable and produced on every continent, minimizing potential supply-chain disruptions.

EcoSphere seat
EcoSphere seat

This new Magna technology is perfect for the Car of the Future and current vehicles.

Interiors will still look amazing, but the materials in them will be easily recyclable into new life down the road. We are providing a truly sustainable option to our automotive customers and consumers. Gen Z in particular is in the driver’s seat as the “sustainability generation,” preferring to buy and even spending more on sustainable brands and products.

Even before EcoSphere is available for production in 2025, it has been named a 2023 Automotive News PACEpilot finalist, an award that recognizes pre-commercial innovation in the automotive or future mobility space.

It’s another example of living our Magna core value of “think big,” as we create technologies like EcoSphere, which has the potential to rock the automotive industry. The name makes it easy to remember: it is a product that is ecologically safe and good for our world.

Grandma and grandpa would be proud.

Head shot Eric Kozolowski

Eric Kozlowski

Magna's EcoSphere product family is a groundbreaking innovation in automotive seating that aims to safeguard our planet by revolutionizing the recycling process of these complex and sizable components.

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