- The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) has released a report examining opportunities and barriers of the automotive recycling industry, focusing on the demand for plastic as more of it is used in auto parts. The Plastics Market Watch report examines this commodity within the auto realm both from the end-of-life perspective as well as by exploring uses of recycled material to manufacture new automobiles, as reported in Plastics News.
- In addition to addressing automobile plastics recycling among SPI members, the report speaks to other stakeholders including designers, scrap recyclers, and policymakers. Authors especially focus on manufacturers' zero waste efforts, which call for them to think about what to do with their scrap.
- Key points from the report include:
- Plastics represent 50% of the volume of materials in a new vehicle but only account for about 10% of the weight.
- 39 types of plastics are used in vehicles.
- About 770 more pounds of plastic will be incorporated into one new car by 2020. That’s 330 more pounds than in 2014.
Every year, 12 million to 15 million vehicles are scrapped in the US, and they have mega tons of salvageable parts for recyclers to capitalize on.
For years, metal recyclers yielded most payoff by focusing on this industry, at least at the end of a vehicle’s life. But now plastics are in the spotlight; they are lightweight, so vehicles and parts are cheaper to ship than many materials. They take up little space at the time of disposal, and there is plenty of infrastructure for processing hard plastics, with new technologies continuing to emerge that Toyota and other auto manufacturers are paying close attention to. As such manufacturers are called on to up their sustainability efforts, incorporating plastics has become a part of the plan.
"I think the takeaway is [plastics recycling is] a priority for the industry on three fronts," said Kim Holmes, senior director of recycling and diversion at SPI, as reported in Plastics News. "Using recycled content. Zero waste manufacturing, which seems to be a priority for everybody. And look at, 'Are there opportunities to recover plastics?' Because they are only going to increase."