New procedure for recycling end-of-life vehicle plastics set to reduce their carbon footprint by 75%


Pursuant to Directive 2000/53/EC on end-of-life vehicles, by end 2020 a reuse and recovery rate of at least 95% of a vehicle’s weight has to be achieved. Bearing in mind that about 20% of vehicle weight corresponds to plastic components, recovery of plastic materials in vehicles is of vital importance today.

At present in Spain, end-of-life vehicle treatment corresponds to Authorised Treatment Centres (CATs in Spanish), but these only carry out decontamination operations. Following this process, fragmenters select the materials they are interested in, which often do not include all plastic components for recycling.

To contribute to an improvement of this process, the Plastics Technology Institute AIMPLAS will be coordinating a European LIFE CIRC-ELV project, whose objective is to implement a new value chain in Europe as far as technically and economically feasible, under which these centres will separate waste made of high density polyethylene and polypropylene bumpers, which are both materials of particular interest. This way, after an initial separation of components, a pretreatment can be planned to allow recycled material to be obtained for pipe manufacturing on the one hand, and on the other, a second recycled compound for producing new automotive components such as wheel arch liners.

The project envisages some 12 Tm of recycled plastic per thousand vehicles. So the implementation of this recycling procedure translates to a 75% reduction in the carbon footprint of end-of-life vehicle plastic.

Apart from coordination, the role of AIMPLAS in this project is to develop a new pretreatment method for separated plastics, and then continue with the compounder phase. In addition, the Institute will be responsible for analysing the environmental impact of these vehicles over their whole life cycle.

The LIFE CIRC-ELV project has the participation of five other stakeholders: the scrapyards Desguaces Cortés, Sigit and Sigrauto from Spain; Indra from France; and Isolago from Portugal.

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