Audi and its partner companies Reiling Glas Recycling, Saint-Gobain Glass, and Saint-Gobain Sekurit have come together for a joint pilot project where they want to turn the damaged auto glass into recyclable material for model production. The partner companies are using an innovative recycling process where the car windows are first broken into small pieces, then all the non-glass impurities like glue residue are eliminated. The resulting glass granulate is melted down and turned into new plate glass. That plate glass is then turned into a new car window. If this pilot is successful, the windows that are produced this way will be used in models in the Audi Q4 e-tron series in the future.
Recycling damaged glass means that less energy and raw material have to be used overall to produce windows. The use of processed materials might reduce the demand for primary materials like quartz sand. Audi intends to use car windows produced this way in Audi Q4 e-tron series production. The company is banking on its collaboration with supplier companies to develop new material circuits and make the value chain more sustainable. There is enough potential in it: at present, a large portion of discarded car windows or panoramic sunroofs are utilized and turned into beverage bottles or insulation materials, for example. If this project succeeds in turning damaged car windows back into new windowpanes, there will be several benefits: the quality of high-grade car glass will be preserved. There is also another positive effect on carbon emissions. Recycling emits up to 30 percent less carbon dioxide compared with manufacturing new glass.
“Our goal is to use secondary materials everywhere it is technically possible and economically reasonable to do so. We’re working on introducing materials we have direct access to into closed circuits,” says Marco Philippi, Head of Procurement Strategy. “As of now, for example, old car glazing is not being used to produce new car windows. We want to change that.”