Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) representatives gathered on July 14 at an ARA member facility in Binghamton, New York to examine the viability of collecting and recycling automotive plastics from end-of-life vehicles. Together with the Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI), the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA), and Scout Environmental, representatives of ARA’s Technical Advisory Committee and the ARA University are working on a collaborative research project to identify solutions and common principles among stakeholders in the automotive plastics life cycle supply chain.
With approximately 12–15 million vehicles being scrapped each year in the United States, an increasing number of those vehicles are comprised of more and more plastic components and parts. Specifically, the research project is exploring the viability of and working to build a basic recovery model for whole parts before shredding, beginning with thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) and polypropylene (PP).
On July 14 project team members were on-site at Gary’s U-Pull It, an ARA member facility, to determine how best to remove plastic components from end-of-life vehicles and the amount of effort required. A variety of plastic components were harvested for demonstration purposes, including fender lines, rocker moldings, door panels, battery trays, and floor mats.
The information captured will greatly inform the process for plastics recovery at automotive recycling facilities as well as exploration of the potential end-market opportunities. Project team members will be further discussing several aspects of the project, including quality control processes, the steps involved in processing and time commitments, and information on the resulting material.
The ultimate goal of the research project is to keep plastic components from going into landfills and to examine the profitability of separating plastics from vehicles that have reached the end of their lifecycle. A white paper is expected to be published in the coming months.