PETAUTO is a threefold project which the chemical group has developed through its R+D+i
Technology Centre Leitat, together with two of the most important automotive component
manufacturers: Ficosa, world leader in rear view mirror systems and fuel deposits and Zanini,
world leader in hubcaps and anagrams.
Investigation results have allowed to obtain prototypes of wheelcaps, anagrams and rear
mirrors out of PET, which is a 100% recyclable and sustainable product. In this sense, La Seda
de Barcelona has iniciated proceedings to obtain an international patent for this newly
developed polymer, for its intellectual property protection.
The PETAUTO characteristics will allow La Seda de Barcelona to have access to a new
potential market of approx. 300.000 tons of PET, which is the annual volume of polyamid (PA)
and ABS compounds the European automotive industry consumes. This new product, the use
of which may be equivalent to savings of more than 50% compared to the technical plastics
and polyamids that are currently in use, will be produced at and supplied from the La Seda de
Barcelona plant in El Prat de Llobregat.
This business iniciative was started back in 2008 with an investment of 1,7 million euros, cofinanced to 38% by CIDEM and FEDER funds, with the clear objective to replace the materials
used until then by Zanini and Ficosa, that is PA and ABS, by the new PET compounds. In order
to achieve this objective, La Seda de Barcelona’s R+D+I centre in the Technology Centre of
Leitat (Terrassa) together with the laboratory and technical personnel of Artenius Prat have carried out a thorough investigation on the most used additives, that would provide PET with the
necessary characteristics for its use in the automotive sector.
Moreover, this innovative development is contributing to comply with the European standards
(Directive 2000/53/CE) which are forcing the automotive sector to design and manufacture
vehicles with 85% of its components being made of recycled material. This standard will be
extended to 95% from 2015 onwards.
The Manager for Industrial Cooperation of the Technology Centre LEITAT, Antoni Pons points
out that “the use of PET for these products offers new advantages to its use and excellent
technical characteristics such as being recyclable, production cost reduction and the use of
sustainable material, apart from a lower energy cost in the transformation process .”
At present, La Seda de Barcelona’s main product is PET, a recyclable polymer which finds its
main appliances in the nutritional packaging sector. PETAUTO is the first project to be
developed by the company to tackle new and potential markets, such as construction, optics,
renewable energy, cosmetics, pharmacy and aeronautics.
According to José Luis Morlanes, President of La Seda de Barcelona La Seda’s business
strategy includes the development of recyclable plastics that are environmentally respectful.
This project is an example of a sustainable economic change based on the company’s increase
of production capacity” and he further points out “a competitive and innovative initiative as a
solution for the current economic crisis.
On the other hand, Joan Miquel Torras, CEO of Zanini admits that thanks to this project and
the resulting prototypes, we may rapidly adjust to the requirements of European standards in
terms of CO2 emission reduction in our manufacturing processes as well as higher recyclability
percentages of our products.
Finally , Josep Maria Tarragó, Executive Vice-President of Ficosa Group adds that from its
beginnings the company has promoted and developed its activity in R + D + i with the objective
to offer quality products with a high degree of added value to our customers. In this sense, we
are developing projects, such as PETAUTO in order to find and generate synergies, optimize
and share resources and above all, generate and manage knowledge through technology