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New project to demonstrate viability of plastics recycling

Plastic auto parts continue to proliferate. A new project aims to demonstrate the technical and economical feasibility of recycling them.

Washington, DC — October 19, 2016 — Plastics are some of the most recycled materials in the world. A new project being spearheaded by SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association promises to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of recycling plastic auto parts.

“We want to make sure that our members see the business benefit of recycling automotive plastics,” said Kim Holmes, Senior Director of Recycling and Diversion at SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association. “The way to get real buy-in is to have concrete data that builds the business case for these recovery models.”

Organizations partnering with SPI to make this program a reality include the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC), Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) and a number of independent plastics and automotive recyclers. The goal of the ELV Recycling Demonstration Project is to develop a method of collection and recovery of Polypropylene (PP) and Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO) auto parts

The average lifespan of a vehicle is estimated to be about 11.5 years, and increasingly those vehicles are comprised of more and more plastics. Factors like using plastic to lighten the weight of vehicles helps meet heightened Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, a major concern for automakers, and the superior design freedom afforded by plastics are driving the increased use of plastics in new vehicle design. Recovery of plastic components before shredding is largely driven by the resale market, but some recovery for mechanical recycling is also occurring.

Another goal of the ELV Recycling Demonstration Project is to gather information to better guide design for recycling opportunities that can help inform future automotive design and recovery of plastics.

Once gathered and analyzed, the project data and best management practices will be shared broadly with the automotive and plastic recycling industries. The goal is to predict trends in demand for recycled materials, so recyclers can invest in processing capacity with greater confidence.

“As plastics continue to be a material of choice for vehicles due to their weight differences and other energy-efficient benefits, we are thrilled to play a leading role with SPI in a program and will continue to explore the benefits of recycling plastic automotive parts,” said Michael E. Wilson, CEO of the Automotive Recyclers Association.

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