ELV project recovers plastics from automobiles

ELV project recovers plastics from automobiles

Plastics’ report shows feasible market and technology for recycled plastic bumpers.

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The results of the final two phases of the end-of-life vehicle (ELV) recycling demonstration project have been released by the Plastics Industry Association (Plastics), Washington. The ELV project demonstrated that recovering thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) from ELV bumpers is feasible, the association says in a news release.

Launched in 2015, the ELV project was designed to study the viability of collecting and recycling plastic car parts, including car bumpers, to eventually be broken down and used as materials to make new products.  

“Finding innovative ways to recycle and reuse plastics has a direct impact on the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills,” says Plastics Interim President and CEO Patty Long. “By developing lasting, sustainable end markets for these materials, even those extracted from scrap cars and trucks, Plastics is giving scrap materials a new life through recycling.”

Over the course of the three phases of research for the ELV project, four plastic bales from four different sources were processed by three plastics recyclers across the United States, and each bale sample met the range of quality that would make it eligible for use in a wide range of applications. From these findings, Plastics was able to create a directory of automotive recyclers that specialize in using ELV materials. 

Following phases two and three, Plastics says it will share case studies from the ELV project. There is a vested interest from brand owners in using recycled ELV bumpers in their manufacturing and design process, the association says.

“The results from the ELV project indicate that there is technology and a market to recycle plastic from vehicles,” says Kendra Martin, Plastics’ vice president of industry affairs. “Organizations have been able to make new parts from car bumpers.”

ACI Plastics, Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), Boston Auto Wreckers, Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA), Erema North American, Geo-Tech Polymers and Padnos are among the member organizations involved in the ELV project.

Meagan Marko, product line manager at Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Noble Polymers, recently spoke on a Re|focus panel about the commitments made to using innovative materials within automotive manufacturing.

“The properties of the material were very close to what we would see from a recycler,” she said. “We saw a lot of promise in the material and we think if the collection and the stream can be scaled up, then there will be a lot of use for it in the market.”