In an effort to cut down on waste in the manufacturing process, Subaru has collaborated with a Japanese supplier to make reusable shopping bags out of airbag fabric. The bags are made out of surplus material that’s typically discarded during at the airbag factory.
The supplier in question is Toyoda Gosei, which is actually part of the Toyota Group. The company has been around since 1949 and makes weatherstripping, fuel tank components, LEDs, dashboards and consoles in addition to airbags. It supplies a variety of carmakers and given Toyota’s close ties with Subaru, the partnership makes sense. Toyota owns 20% of Subaru, and they collaborate on cars such as the 86 and BRZ, or the bZ4X and Solterra.
Airbags are woven out of a special nylon that has to be flame resistant and impervious to gases. They’re designed to last a long time as well, since they have to remain functional through many heating cycles in a car interior for years, possibly decades. If you’ve ever left a typical polypropylene shopping bag in your hot car for too long and had it disintegrate in your hands, scattering plastic dust everywhere, you know those so called eco-bags aren’t really that eco friendly.
Due to their soft material, the airbag bags can fold down into a very compact square as and come with an elastic band to hold the folded square together. That’s helpful for storage, as anyone with a trunkful of canvas shopping bags can attest to.
The bags are white but have stripes in either Subaru’s trademark blue or the pinkish-red of the STI performance brand. They’re also designed to have an opening large enough hold a standard Japanese cypress tub and onsen towel, two items necessary when visiting one of country’s many hot springs.
Earlier this year, Toyoda Gosei announced a collaboration with Asics to make sneakers out of airbag fabric.
The Subaru bag costs ¥2,500 ($18.62 USD), but so far it’s only available in Japan.