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How We Can Help the Automotive Industry Recycle

How We Can Help the Automotive Industry Recycle

The automotive industry has seen a revival since its low point during the Great Recession. But when it comes to the cars produced domestically as well as the new models automakers are introducing to the market each year, most of the attention is on development and production of the vehicles, not what happens at the end of their lives. But the end is something that everyone in the automotive industry should be taking note of, as there are an estimated 15 million cars and trucks that are scrapped each year in the U.S. 

Responsibly discarding and recycling what can be reused from end-of-life cars and trucks isn't just good for the environment, it can help lower the cost of production of future cars and trucks. This post will take a look at what exactly can be recycled from a vehicle and how those in the automotive industry can implement an industrial recycling plan.

Amount of recyclable scrap materials

What's in a Car?

In an effort to make cars lighter — thereby more fuel efficient — and cheaper to own, automakers have turned to plastic for a variety of internal vehicle components. Think the likes of cup holders, side pillars, paneling and more. These areas are made from plastics, and it's these plastics, along with most of a vehicle's other interior and exterior components, that account for some 75 percent of a vehicle that can be recycled. 

It's worth noting that most end-of-life vehicles eventually go to a shredding facility where they are separated into ferrous and non-ferrous metals, both of which can be recycled. The remaining shredded material is considered scrap and sent to landfills. But that's not the most alarming part. The most alarming part of this is that each vehicle produces about 500 pounds of shredded scrap, which largely consists of foams, plastics and more materials that could have been recycled. Recovering just half of the scrap material that goes to waste can go a long way in helping the environment, not to mention the automotive business.

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Industrial Recycling in the Automotive Industry

Proper sorting is necessary to recover end-of-life car and truck materials that would typically enter a landfill. This is best done following the shredding process, and such materials are best separated into four different categories:

  • Fines, which consist of the likes of iron oxides, glass and dirt
  • Polyurethane foam
  • Polymers
  • Metals

A separate plastics system can also be put in place to separate the various types of plastics in the automobile for recycling. In the end, materials that are recovered from end-of-life cars can be reused to make new automotive parts and also aid in the research and development of next-generation lightweight cars and trucks.

For more information about launching an industrial recycling program at your automotive facility, contact us today.