We present the complexities in terms of designing automotive exterior seating materials (seat coverings and interior linings) at Sage Automotive Interiors (UK), which is a division of a global international automotive textile supplier with headquarters in the US. Sustainability and innovation are emphasized in documents communicating the company’s vision. Using a case study approach, we consider the current design, development and manufacture process and examine it for the potential for feedback loops, identify potential leverage points to effect change and how the process could divert wastes from disposal. We will highlight where sustainable decisions can be incorporated and the difficulties in achieving true sustainability. We argue that a systems approach is needed from conception to final product to ensure economic recycling of textiles and fibres used in automotive seating. Without which, the reality is at best incineration for energy and/or landfill, thus losing important, finite resources forever from a diminishing resource pool of raw materials.