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Plastic Growing Role in Auto Manufacturing

Time:2016-06-16 Read:
Plastics and recycled plastics are playing an innovative and growing role in automotive manufacturing around the world. The Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council reports plastics make up about 50 percent of a modern automobile’s volume, but only 10 percent of its weight. On average, plastics reduce the weight of automobiles by 500 to 750 pounds.

 

Plastics and recycled plastics are playing an innovative and growing role in automotive manufacturing around the world. The Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council reports plastics make up about 50 percent of a modern automobile’s volume, but only 10 percent of its weight. On average, plastics reduce the weight of automobiles by 500 to 750 pounds.

 

 But with about 39 different types of plastics being used in automobiles, recycling those vehicles at their practical end-of-life—about 27 million every year around the world—can be a challenge. However, with increased use of plastics in vehicles, increased attention should be given to what happens to those plastics.

 In recent years, carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) has been embraced by a wide range of automotive manufacturers—particularly the plug-in and battery-powered models coming to market. At a weight 50 percent lighter than conventional steel and 30 percent lighter than aluminum, more automakers are taking notice of the benefits and wide uses for carbon fiber inside and outside of a vehicle. CFRP is viewed by some consumers as a high-tech, high-value material, and therefore is given high visibility by automakers.

 These plastic materials and parts can be recycled—either at the manufacturing facility as part of a post-industrial recycling program that many automobile companies and parts manufacturers have adopted, and as well as the recovery option that will eventually extend to end of life vehicles (ELVs) as well. The closed loop recycling of PIR scrap adopted by manufacturers is recognition of the value of the plastics and the byproducts in their manufacturing, and the opportunity to recycle plastic parts into new components.

 ELV recycling of these plastics can come via the recycling of specific parts— like plastics used in bumpers—or in the auto shredder residue (ASR) that is ultimately produced in the crushing and shredding of end-of-life vehicles.

Source: The Plastics Industry Trade Association