Automotive Industry: Vehicle Recycling and its impact on the environment - Conclusion

Will Hornick

Summary of our series on Vehicle Recycling and Its Impact on the Environment

The current EU target for the recovery of materials from end-of-life vehicles will rise
from 85% of weight to 95% of weight in 2015. This change has caused the
automotive and recycling industries to focus on every area of recycling and every
type of material. Each process that recyclers undertake will be examined for areas
which can be improved upon, where more material can be recovered, and
ultimately, where more can be kept from landfill.

Tyres are one of the big areas where improvements can be made, as rubber can
account for up to 20% of the weight of material for landfill from and end-of-life
vehicle. There are several different methods for recycling and reuse, but the
development of new recycling technologies is expected in this area. Zero waste
processes which break rubber down to the raw materials for recycling are currently
being tested by manufacturers, and the potential is for localised recycling plants
which will feed the materials directly back into manufacturing.

Plastics are another area undergoing rapid development, as newer types of plastics
are used in a variety of new applications across the industry. Recycling methods
must be developed for these plastics, and the landscape may become clearer for
recyclers when manufacturers settle on certain types of plastics for production.

The continued move towards e-mobility brings with it new materials which must
also be recycled effectively. Rare earth metals, permanent magnets and lithium are
all materials which the current automotive recycling industry is not set up to deal
with. New processes of recovery for these types of materials must be developed not only to keep pace with the growing market, but also to offset fears of supply shortages.

This article is part of the Vehicle Recycling series.

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