Guest Blog: Antimicrobial protection for plastics, with a cleaner ride to boot

July 7, 2022

In this guest blog, Rich Kenney of PLASTICS member Microban shares some fascinating information about how automakers are working with companies like Microban to protect us from germs as we drive.

By Rich Kenney
Director of Business Development
Microban International

After a seemingly motionless few years, people are on the move again and using their automobiles more than ever. However, in this new era, 72% of consumers say they are concerned about exposure to microbes,1 with high-touch plastic surfaces in automobiles – such as handles, upholstery and control panels – increasingly in the spotlight. In fact, recent evidence suggests automotive interiors can be dirtier than a toilet seat, encouraging manufacturers to respond and look for innovative solutions to alleviate consumer concern. This has sparked a rapid interest in antimicrobial technologies, which can be incorporated into a wide range of materials, including plastics, during manufacturing to provide ongoing product protection, and deliver added peace of mind for the driver and passengers alike.  

Portable playground for microbes

The plethora of hotspots in automobiles supplies a perfect breeding ground where microbes can multiply. This is compounded by the rapid evolution of ride sharing in recent years – owing to the breakthrough of apps, such as Lyft and Uber – where increasing ‘foot traffic’ multiplies the potential source of microbial contamination. The continuous movement of different people in this small environment – and its abundance of high-touch plastic surfaces – enhances the already favorable conditions for microbes to grow, where they can percolate odors, produce stains and, worryingly, cause premature product deterioration, degrading both aesthetics and value. Luckily, there are now technologies invisible to the naked eye that will not only protect the various components making up automotive interiors, but will also outlast the mileage of any gas guzzler. 

An additional and crucial optional extra

Automotive surfaces can now benefit from antimicrobial additives that are incorporated into various parts during manufacturing. Indeed, these technologies have been developed with the manufacturer in mind, and industry-leading companies like Microban International have made the process seamless for almost any material application. Plastics, for example, are generally straightforward – especially injection-molded parts – and Microban® technology is simply integrated into components during manufacturing. The resulting product looks and performs in exactly the same way, but with the added benefit of antimicrobial product protection. Nowadays, automotive interiors are awash with plastics, and therefore represent a perfect starting point for manufacturers looking to incorporate these antimicrobial technologies. The proven formulations deliver 24/7 surface protection, helping products to resist the build-up microbes that contribute to stains, odors and premature product deterioration. When balanced with routine cleaning, integrating antimicrobial surfaces can help make plastic automotive components more durable, and potentially even contribute to extending the life of the automobile.

Greatness is rarely achieved alone

With 64 % of adults now prepared to pay more for a product with built-in antimicrobial protection,1 now is the time for automotive component manufacturers to funnel their R&D resources into incorporating these innovative antimicrobial technologies into plastic parts. In fact, many industries and manufacturers are already on board, and know that consumers will soon expect these technologies as standard in their automobiles. 

This is why many manufacturers are turning to companies like Microban for help, as the company develops tailored solutions that synchronize with existing manufacturing processes. Furthermore, its broad technology portfolio and high-performing additives can be manufactured into over 50 material types, including the full range of plastics commonly found in the automotive sector. In a time of heightened concern, antimicrobial technologies offer a way to help protect automotive interiors from the damaging effects of microbes, while addressing the beseeching demand of consumers.   


  1. Multi-sponsor surveys. (2020). Antibacterial Products Study

© 2022 kdm communications limited

Rich Kenney is the Director of Business Development at Microban International, where he oversees new business efforts for Microban’s full line of antimicrobial additive technologies and applications. Rich has worked over 25 years in the antimicrobial industry, supporting the global commercial activities of leading antimicrobial ingredient brands, Microban® and Ultra-Fresh®. Rich holds a Bachelor of Science in Textiles Science from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.