New Developments in Vehicle Recycling
Sullivan, John L.
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The technology of vehicle recycling today is capable of recovering and reusing about 75% of the weight of scrap vehicles. The 75% recycling rate is believed to be the highest recycling rate in durable goods. Moreover, with a technology that was developed in the '70s, vehicle recycling is a profitable undertaking and, consequently, a robust infra-structure for handling and recycling scrap cars exists today. The recovery of materials from scrap vehicles, however, is generally limited to metals, such as steel, iron, zinc, aluminum, and copper. Non-metallic materials are usually discarded to landfills. The technology of recycling plastics and other non-metallic materials, including fluids, from vehicles is at its infancy and its profitability is yet to be determined. Several trends are developing in the automotive industry which will have a positive effect on recycling. Examples are the recent applications of recycled plastics, the marking of plastic parts, and the joint R&D recycling projects between the automotive companies, suppliers, and recyclers.