Reuse of seats from end-of-life vehicles as high-quality furniture

ECONIA is a consultancy company specialising in environmental and Circular Economy projects. Amongst other projects, the company is currently participating in RESEAT, a Circular Economy demonstration project funded by the European ERDF programme and Ihobe, the Public Company for Environmental Management of the Government of the Basque Country (Sociedad Pública de Gestión Ambiental del Gobierno Vasco).

The RESEAT project has the objective of recovering high-quality seats from end-of-life vehicles (ELV) at authorised vehicle treatment centres (previously known as scrap yards) in the Basque Country.

Currently, ELV seats do not tend to be recovered and reused, due to poor commercial demand for these second-hand items. For this reason, they are compacted into scrap bales, along with the other remains of the vehicle that are not used after decontamination. The subsequent defragmentation of these bales enables recycling of metal fractions (separated by means of different technologies): textiles, plastics and foams, which form part of the fraction known as FLUFF (light fraction subsequent to defragmentation) and are sent to landfill.

Therefore, RESEAT is a project for the reuse of a functional vehicle element disposed of by users. It enables significant upcycling compared to the current final destiny of seats that are not recovered at the end of the vehicle’s life.

On an environmental level, the RESEAT project will help to meet the 60% 2020 target established for preparation for reuse, recycling and waste recovery in the Basque Country. It will also help reduce the pressure on landfills. Furthermore, RESEAT will help to achieve the strategic goal set out in the Basque Country Waste Prevention and Management Plan, which stipulates a reuse and recovery rate of at least 95% of average vehicle weight per annum. The project is also in line with European environmental trends and policies, which seek to foster the Circular Economy through reuse and reintroduction of products into the market.

The authorised treatment centres (CAT) play a vital role in the Circular Economy, because their objective is to achieve correct management of all ELV waste and ensure that a significant number of parts can once again be used in the production chain.


Article published in: FuturENVIRO #36 December 2016 – January 2017