Browse Publications Technical Papers 2003-01-0645
2003-03-03

USCAR U.S. Field Trial for Automotive Polymers Recycling 2003-01-0645

The United States Field Trial was chartered by the United States Council for Automotive Research/Vehicle Recycling Partnership (USCAR/VRP) with the objective of evaluating the feasibility and viability of collecting and recycling automotive polymers from domestic End-of-Life Vehicles (ELVs). European concerns regarding vehicle abandonment risks, decreasing landfill capacity, and disposal practices have resulted in the legislated treatment of ELVs in Western Europe. The emergence of attendant material collection schemes promoting material recycling may not apply to the free-market economic conditions prevalent in North America vehicle recycling infrastructure. Although ELVs are among the most widely recycled consumer products, 15-25% of their total mass is currently discarded with no material recovery, although their residue, when permitted, is a preferred landfill day cover in some areas. The portion of the vehicle remainder that is polymeric has the most potential for further recycling. In order to determine the potential success of polymeric recovery for further vehicle recycling within the North American recycling market, the United States Field Trial (USFT) was initiated in 1998 with interim documentation in 2000 (SAE 2000-01-0735). With the trial now completed, this paper reports on the entire project. The project identified North American ELV recycling practices, explored ELV plastic material recovery, and studied alternative scenarios for plastic material handling, local transportation, sorting, processing, and compounding. Specifically, recovered ABS and PP plastic materials were formulated to OEM specifications and molded using production tooling to establish the viability and economics of the pursuit of these materials as a commercial enterprise. Conclusions indicate that, while the materials and parts are acceptable, the economic incentives and altered logistics needed to support this endeavor will not currently be borne by existing North American market economics.

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