Impact of Recycling Automotive Lightweighting Materials on Sustainability 2009-01-0317
A sustainable activity is one that is economically attractive, environmentally friendly and provides a beneficial service to society in a safe and responsible manner. Having a sustainable operation is a target that today’s industries are striving to attain. The automotive industry and its products are major users of natural resources and a source of greenhouse emissions. In order to reduce its energy consumption and greenhouse emissions the industry is using more lightweighting materials in manufacturing its products. These materials include polymers, composites, aluminum and magnesium. The increased interest in hybrid vehicles will increase the need for new materials such as lithium, cobalt and nickel. At the same time, regulations are calling for recycling more of the obsolete vehicles. Replacing the steel, which is recyclable, with lighter materials will result in a reduction in the recycling rate of vehicles unless the lightweighting materials are recycled. Lightweighting and hybrid vehicle battery materials are expensive and unless recycled could become in short supply. Improper disposal of these materials can have adverse environmental impacts. Therefore, recycling of these materials is necessary for maintaining a sustainable growth. This paper discusses technical, economic and societal issues associated with recycling of automotive materials.