Chrysler Uses Recycled Plastic In Demonstration Car
Auburn Hills, MI - Innovative recycling technology shown for the first time in Chrysler Group's CARE Car II turns garbage into a valuable product while potentially saving the automobile industry $320 million per year.
The CARE Car II is the second phase of the Chrysler group's CARE (Concepts for Advanced Recycling and Environmental) Car demonstration program. The goals of the program are to increase the recyclability and recovery of automobiles to about 95 percent by weight and increase the use of recycled materials in production vehicles.
"This project demonstrates that the industry can 'care' for the environment while protecting the bottom line," said Bernard Robertson, senior vice president of engineering technologies and regulatory affairs.
"Automobiles are already one of the most recycled products on the planet, but this technology presents the first real world solution to recycle the remaining 25 percent of a vehicle that still goes to a landfill."
Chrysler Group worked with 26 production suppliers and Salt Lake City based Recovery Plastics International (RPI), to retrofit two Jeep(R) Grand Cherokees with 54 recycled plastic parts. Chrysler Group was the first automaker to use RPI's proprietary plastic flotation technology to separate the myriad of plastic types found in automotive shredder residue— which currently goes to landfill— and use the recovered plastic to manufacture new vehicle parts.
The recycled parts meet the same material specifications required for production vehicles and were manufactured by the Chrysler Group's production supply partners. The suppliers used current production molds and processes to produce the parts— at a lower cost than using virgin plastic. Chrysler Group estimates that the recycled plastic can save $10-$20 per vehicle.
"It's critical to enlist our supplier partners in the technology development process so we identify potential issues early and bring new technologies to market faster," Mr. Robertson said. "Our suppliers are the key factor in moving innovative technology from the lab into high volume production."
In addition to working with traditional supplier partners and RPI, the Chrysler Group enlisted the support of two large metal recycling companies, The David J. Joseph Company, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Hugo Neu Corporation of New York City. By working with metal recyclers and supply partners, the CARE Car project demonstrated that a market does exist for the recovered plastic and that the recycled plastic can be used to create quality parts at a lower cost while reducing waste to landfills.
The shredder residue used to make the recycled plastic came from a variety of sources— everything from automobiles, refrigerators and dishwashers to discarded Frisbees. Waste from Chrysler Group manufacturing facilities was used also to create parts on the vehicles. Polyester gloves, cloth wipes and powder paint residue were recycled and used in the production of components in the CARE cars.
About 95 percent of all automobiles are recycled. However, recycling is generally limited to the 75 percent by weight of the vehicle that is metallic. The remaining 25 percent is currently disposed in landfills.