1994-03-01

Recycling Benefits of Pour-in-Place Molded Seat Technology Versus Traditional Cut and Sew Technology 940220

Preservation of the environment has been recognized as an important criterion by which to measure the impact of our activities in the Automotive Industry. Solid waste is a concern with process scrap from production of parts for new vehicles, and with any material sent to landfill after the old vehicles are scrapped at the end of their useful lives. There are significant technical hurdles inherent in the recycling of vehicles on the road today since yesterday's designs did not consider the concept of recyclability. These hurdles should disappear in future automobiles as design for recycling or disassembly becomes a key priority.
Recent studies have shown that post-consumer automotive seating foam can be used to produce good quality bonded underlayment. A substantial and viable market currently exists for scrap polyurethane flexible foam. More than 220 thousand metric tons per year of polyurethane flexible foam are used to produce quality carpet underlayment for wall-to-wall carpeting.
Reduction of ASR (Automotive Shredder Residue) can be accomplished by selective removal of polymers prior to the shredding process. Traditional cut and sew seat technology uses embedded wires and rods, as well as velcro, staples and hog rings to fabricate vehicle seats. This technology makes it difficult and time consuming to economically recover usable flexible foam. The study presented here contrasts recovery of materials from Pour-In-Place (PIP) automotive seating produced using MDI-based polyurethane flexible foam technology with traditional Cut and Sew (CAS) technology. Disassembly, labor, and amounts of foam recovered from seats produced using CAS and PIP technologies are presented, and implications for viable recycling technologies reviewed.

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