Subaru and Toyota Group’s Toyoda Gosei have teamed up to create reusable shopping bags made from airbag fabric. The bags are made from surplus material that would typically be discarded during the airbag manufacturing process. Toyoda Gosei has been producing weatherstripping, fuel tank components, LEDs, dashboards, consoles, and airbags since 1949. The company supplies a variety of carmakers and has close ties with Toyota, which owns 20% of Subaru. The partnership between Subaru and Toyoda Gosei makes sense given their shared interests in sustainable manufacturing practices.
Airbags are made from a special nylon material that is flame-resistant and impervious to gases. They are designed to last a long time and remain functional through many heating cycles in a car interior for years, possibly decades. In contrast, typical polypropylene shopping bags are not eco-friendly and can disintegrate quickly, scattering plastic dust everywhere. The soft material of the airbag bags allows them to fold down into a compact square and come with an elastic band to hold the folded square together, making them easy to store.
The bags are white with stripes in either Subaru’s trademark blue or the pinkish-red of the STI performance brand. They are also designed to have an opening large enough to hold a standard Japanese cypress tub and onsen towel, two items necessary when visiting one of the country’s many hot springs. The bags cost ¥2,500 ($18.62 USD) and are currently only available in Japan.
Earlier this year, Toyoda Gosei announced a collaboration with Asics to create sneakers made from airbag fabric. This partnership between Subaru and Toyoda Gosei is another example of how companies are finding innovative ways to reduce waste in the manufacturing process and promote sustainability. By repurposing surplus materials, they are able to create new products that are both functional and eco-friendly. As more companies adopt these practices, we can expect to see a shift towards a more sustainable future.