Demonstrating the feasibility of car plastics recycling
United States: The US Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI) has announced a new project, the Automotive End-of-Life Vehicles Recycling Demonstration Project, in order to develop a method of collection and recovery of Polypropylene (PP) and Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO) auto parts ‘in a way that demonstrates technical and economic feasibility’.
Approximately 12-15 million vehicles are scrapped each year in the US, so SPI estimates. Meanwhile, the average lifespan of a vehicle is estimated to be about 11.5 years, and increasingly those vehicles are comprised of ‘more and more plastics’.
Using plastic to lighten the weight of vehicles as well as ‘superior design freedom’ are hailed as factors driving the growing amount of plastics serving automotive industry. SPI observes that recovery of plastic components before shredding is largely fuelled by the resale market, but some recovery for mechanical recycling is also occurring.
Once gathered and analysed, the project data and best management practices will be shared broadly with the automotive and plastic recycling industries. SPI notes that the goal is to predict trends in demand for recycled materials, so recyclers can invest in processing capacity ‘with greater confidence’.
‘We want to make sure that our members see the business benefit of recycling automotive plastics,’ comments Kim Holmes, senior director of recycling and diversion at SPI. ‘The way to get real buy-in is to have concrete data that builds the business case for these recovery models.’
SPI’s project partners include the Automotive Recyclers Association, Automotive Recyclers of Canada, Canadian Plastics Industry Association.