Recycling of Us Automobile Materials: a Conundrum for Advanced Materials
This paper discusses the difficulties associated with imposing recycling imperatives upon advanced materials development by examining the case of automotive materials substitution and its impacts upon the recyclability of the automobile. Parallels are drawn between today's issues, which focus upon the recyclability of the increasing polymeric fraction in automobile shredder fluff, and the junked automobile problem of the 1960's, when the problem of abandoned automobiles became a part of the environmental and legislative agenda in the US and overseas. In the 1960's, both the source and the resolution of the junk automobile problem arose through a confluence of technological and economic factors, rather than through any set of regulatory influences. The rise of electric arc furnace steelmaking and the development of the automobile shredder were sufficient to virtually eliminate the problem - so much so that today's problems are incorrectly viewed as novelties.