Diminishing municipal landfill space poses a serious problem to state and local governments across the United States. Consequently, the federal government is becoming more aggressively involved in solid waste issues in attempts to alleviate the national solid waste dilemma. At the same time, however, the “junk” automobiles are contributing an increasing amount of waste to landfills. This is due to a trend in materials selection which replaces the more traditional ferrous materials with plastics that offer weight reduction, corrosion reduction, and a variety of other benefits. The problems that these materials render to the automotive solid waste stream are coming under closer examination, and trends in environmental legislation indicate that this scrutiny may become more intense.
This paper serves to not only anticipate future legislative and regulatory involvement, but also to reveal possible solid waste solutions to the automotive plastics problem; these include improving recycling technology, designing for recycling, and developing markets for recycled materials. This paper also examines alternative roles which the federal government could play in promulgating the solutions. These alternatives are then evaluated according to their feasibility and effectiveness, and a recommendation for government involvement is proposed.