TextileFuture Exclusive – Groupe Renault co-develops a unique textile fabric made from 100% recycled materials for new Renault ZOE

  • A breakthrough industrial application, co-developed by Groupe Renault, Les Filatures du Parc, a French company specialized in carded yarn, and Adient Fabrics, the world’s leading supplier of automotive seats, with the support of Ademe and the Occitania region in France
  • A unique, patented textile product made from safety belts, textile scraps and plastic bottle recycling, in the New Renault Zoé
  • This new, innovative short loop manufacturing process reduces the carbon footprint by 60 % compared to the standard process
The new Renault ZOE on test drive in Sardinia (all captions courtesy by Group Renault)

Deeply committed to a strategy of increasing integration of recycled materials into its vehicles, Groupe Renault has initiated in 2015 a project called “àfiler” (“to thread”) alongside Filatures du Parc, a spinning mill in the Tarn region of France, and Adient Fabrics, an automotive seat supplier in Ariège, France, to design a unique textile product made exclusively from recycled materials.

Thanks to the traditional know-how of carded yarn and co-developed innovations, this textile product – made from safety belts, textile scrap from the automotive industry and polyester fibres from the recycling of plastic bottles (PET) – now covers the interior of the New Renault ZOE, in Zen and Intens finishes. The fabric covering a total area of 8 m² is used for the manufacture of seat covers, dashboard coverings, gear lever brackets and door fittings, and meets the high requirements for comfort, cleaning, UV resistance and durability.

The car interior with the applied product

The supply and short loop manufacturing of this recycled carded yarn – without chemical or thermal transformation – reduces associated CO2 emissions by more than 60 % compared to the previous ZOE fabric from a standard manufacturing process.

The car seats in the front …
…and the fabric upholstery in the rear

Jean-Philippe Hermine, Director of Environmental Strategy & Planning for Groupe Renault, said: “Faced with the challenge of the energy transition, industries have an essential role to play in changing their production methods and reducing their environmental impact. With the support of our partners Filatures du Parc and Adient Fabrics, we are demonstrating that it is possible to implement circular and competitive development models focused on resources, while acquiring a valuable competitive advantage at a time when the availability and cost of raw materials are becoming a real strategic issue. This approach contributes to the Group’s commitment to reduce the environmental impacts of each vehicle throughout its life cycle and to reduce its global carbon footprint by -25 % in 2022 compared to 2010.”

Fabrice Lodetti, Manager of Filatures du Parc, added: “For 15 years, our company has been working on the manufacture of recycled yarns from used textile materials for the clothing and furniture sectors in particular. This now represents more than 60 % of our activity, our objective is to eventually reach 100 % of production. We are convinced of the relevance of this responsible social and economic model, based on the principles of the circular economy, to limit the impact on the environment and preserve natural resources in the years to come. To continue in this direction, we encourage all our partners and work closely with their creative teams to develop eco-designed products.”

Mathias Daynie, Director of the ADIENT Fabrics plant in Laroque d’Olmes in France, pointed out that: “The development of fabrics made from short-loop recycled products, such as the one designed for Nouvelle ZOE, is undeniably the future of our business. The prospects are very important both in the automotive industry and in other sectors of activity that will certainly follow this approach from an environmental, ethical and economic point of view. Our Laroque d’Olmes site, both a production plant and an R&D center of excellence, with 60 years of experience since its creation by Michel Thierry in 1955 and 20 years dedicated exclusively to the automotive industry, is particularly invested in high value-added products for the future, in collaboration with its partners. In addition to its traditional or eco-designed fabrics for the automotive industry, the site is studying other innovative textile solutions that could open up new markets to support its customers in their technical and environmental ambitions.”

Developed in the 15th century, the textile, clothing and leather industries are an integral part of the economic heritage of the Occitania region, France, particularly in Tarn and Ariège. In an extremely challenging context, the development of new textile products that are technical, sustainable and competitive is a real growth lever for the region’s players and an opportunity to position themselves on new markets, secure jobs and develop new skills.

In this perspective, the “àfiler” project received the support of the Ademe and the Occitania Region, as well as the support of ENSAIT (National High School of textile arts and industries) in Roubaix to consolidate the research and technical validation of this new textile product.

Renault Environment, a Groupe Renault subsidiary dedicated to the circular economy and created in 2008, collects materials intended for a second life, such as scraps of safety belts and scrap from the manufacture of virgin fabrics for the automotive sector.

Focus on the industrial process:

  • Collect and supply
The safety belts before defibring
The defibring process
After the defibring process
Blends and textile mixture
The spinning process at Filatures du Parc
  • Manufacture of recycled carded yarn

For the manufacture of the yarn, the Group relies on the Filatures du Parc, a company based in Brassac in the Tarn region. Thanks to the financial and technical support on this project, Les Filatures du Parc have been able to develop a new industrial defibering line adapted to the robustness of safety belts, an essential step in preparing raw materials and optimizing fiber length.

Once cut and shredded, the belt and textile fibers are mixed with polyester fibers from plastic bottles that guarantee the cohesion of the fibers, before undergoing a series of carding operations. Derived from the term “thistle” or spicy spiky plant, the traditional carding technique makes it possible to obtain a new weaving yarn thanks to a system of drums lined with very fine steel tips rotating at high speed. This know-how thus makes it possible, without chemical or thermal transformation, to disentangle and then divide, to stretch, then align parallel and finally to twist the fibers cleared of impurities.

The spinning process from a different angle

This 100% recycled carded yarn has been patented jointly by Groupe Renault with Filatures du Parc.

The spun material
The sample and colour lab
  • Weaving and fabric production before assembly

Adient Fabrics, a weaver and supplier of 1 in 3 automotive seats in the world, receives the reconstituted yarn on reels at its Laroque d’Olmes site (Ariège), located only 120 km from the spinning mills, to weave and produce the automotive fabric, upholstery and interior trim for the vehicles.

The warping process
The weaving preparation process
The weaving process
The woven fabric
Quality control and finishing
The finishing process

Groupe Renault, a pioneer and leader in the circular economy:

In addition to recycled fibre, Groupe Renault is rolling out many material loops, particularly for copper, plastic, platinoids and ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The New ZOE also incorporates 17.5kg of recycled plastic, some of which is used for the first time in our range in visible parts in the passenger compartment, such as low polypropylene interior cabinetry.

Through Renault Environment, and its subsidiary Gaia in particular, Groupe Renault also develops for more than 20 years a whole range of activities in the circular economy, such as the treatment of end-of-life vehicles (through its subsidiary Indra in partnership with Suez), the recovery of metals (Bonne Comenor, also a joint venture with Suez), the repair, reconditioning or recycling of electrical batteries, and remanufacturing (renovation of mechanical parts and various used components) in the Choisy-Le-Roi plant.

To find out more about the Groupe Renault’s circular economy policy: click here

To find out more about Nouvelle ZOE : click here

Groupe Renault has manufactured cars since 1898. Today it is an international multi-brandgroup, selling close to 3.9 million vehicles in 134 countries in 2018, with 36 manufacturing sites, 12700 points of sales and employing more than 180000 people. To address the major technological challenges of the future, while continuing to pursue its profitable growth strategy, Groupe Renault is focusing on international expansion. To this end, it is drawing on the synergies of its five brands (Renault, Dacia, Renault Samsung Motors, Alpine and LADA), electric vehicles, and its unique alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors. With a 100 % Renault owned team committed to the Formula 1 World Championship since 2016, the brand is involved in motorsports, a real vector for innovation and awareness.

ADIENT is one of the world’s leading automotive seat manufacturers, supplying approximately one in three automotive seats worldwide. Present in 32 countries and with 84,000 employees at 214 production sites close to its customers, the ADIENT group’s mission is to be a world reference among automotive seat suppliers through its leadership in cost, quality, launch and customer satisfaction. ADIENT uses its skills to ensure its growth both within and beyond the automotive industry and has a vision and ambition to improve the experience of a changing world.

ADIENT Fabrics France, a French subsidiary of the ADIENT group’s textile division, was founded in 1955 by Michel Thierry. Historically based in Laroque d’Olmes in Ariège (Occitania), it currently employs nearly 220 people, 120 of whom are dedicated to production and around 100 in the support and R&D functions (Laroque and Paris). ADIENT Fabrics France is still the largest fabric manufacturing plant in Occitania with the particularity of being 100% dedicated to the automotive market.

ADIENT Fabrics France site

Nearly 4 million metres of fabric are produced on site each year. This unit, certified IATF 16949, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001, is perfectly integrated into the industrial organization of the ADIENT Group, world leader in automotive seating. Among the main automakers customers of the Laroque d’Olmes plant are VW, Renault, PSA….

About Filatures du Parc:

Filatures du Parc is an SME created by Jean Lodetti in 1975. Specialized in the production of carded yarn for various sectors including clothing, furniture, technical fabrics and automobiles.The family company currently employs 48 people, exports to more than 40 countries and offers about forty different qualities and manages more than 1000 colours all year round for a turnover of EUR 4.5 million.