Molecular Management: Molecular recycling study demonstrates potential closed-loop solution for automotive plastic waste

Toronto, Ontario — Material technology company Eastman says it has developed a new method to recycle automotive plastic waste at a molecular level.

Specifically, Eastman’s technology takes automotive shredder residue (ASR) or “auto fluff” and uses this as the feedstock in the recycling process. After breaking down otherwise hard-to-recycle plastics, the new material is then able to be built back into new polymers that, according to the company, are indistinguishable from new materials with no trade-offs in performance or safety.

In its original study of the recycling process in 2021, Eastman worked with a variety of companies to trial the recycling initiative. PADNO supplied ASR as feedstock for Eastman to break down at a molecular level. From here, Eastman converted the ASR into materials used downstream in the production of new plastic resins. Finally, Yanfeng molded Eastman’s resins into new automotive parts that met a variety of requirements established by Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.

“Globally, we’ve reached a tipping point in the automotive industry,” said Chris Scarazzo, global automotive segment market manager in Eastman specialty plastics. “Manufacturers have pivoted to more sustainable content, and molecular recycling can definitely play a part in that transition.”

“Modern cars are made with approximately 50 percent plastic by volume, on average, and this number is expected to increase as automotive manufacturers continue to seek lighter electric vehicles,” Steve Crawford, Eastman’s executive vice president, manufacturing and chief sustainability officer further commented.

“We’re demonstrating a future where automotive hard-to-recycle plastics and fibres are diverted from landfills and recycled to produce new automotive parts.”

To read Eastman’s 2021 report, click here.




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