What's Recycled More Than Any Other Item in the U.S.? Here's a Hint - USCAR's VRP is Involved
April 23, 2007
According to statistics published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on its
http://www.epa.gov Web site, 50 percent of all paper, 34 percent of all plastic soft drink bottles, 45 percent of all aluminum beer and soft drink cans, 63 percent of all steel packaging and 67 percent of all major
appliances are now recycled.
More than any of these, however, is a consumer item whose recycling
percentage and trail goes far beyond the municipal waste yard. It's your
car or truck, when it's no longer usable. Today, more than 95 percent of
all vehicles in the United States go through a market-driven recycling
infrastructure, with no added cost or tax to consumers. More than 84
percent, by weight, of each end-of-life vehicle (ELV) is recycled.
Better yet, the United States Council for Automotive Research's (USCAR)
Vehicle Recycling Partnership (VRP), composed of DaimlerChrysler AG, Ford
Motor Company and General Motors Corporation, is working with the U.S.
Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the Plastics
Division of the American Chemistry Council to raise the recycling
percentage of each ELV to as close to 100 percent as conceivably possible.
The group is now in its fourth year of its third Cooperative Research
and Development Agreement (CRADA), and it has been working to maximize
vehicle recycling in the United States since its first CRADA in 1991.
"The U.S. automakers have long taken a proactive stance in vehicle
recycling. They continue to work side-by-side with government and private
industry to optimally recycle all vehicles, regardless of age, content or
origin," said Don Walkowicz, executive director of USCAR. "If it's driven
and disposed of here, the vehicle becomes part of the mix - along with a
lot of other big disposables, like appliances and building demolition or
commercial and industrial waste materials.
"The USCAR Vehicle Recycling Partnership, Argonne and the Plastics
Division of the American Chemistry Council really are taking a national
leadership role, addressing the entire lot of shredder residue, regardless
of its source," Walkowicz added. "They are working to implement sustainable
recycling solutions that keep waste out of landfills, save energy and put
materials into reuse."
Thus far, the CRADA team impact has been broad and diverse and includes:
- Establishing and publishing preferred practices for recycling.
- Establishing efficient fluid removal processes.
- Running a licensed Vehicle Recycling Development Center to establish procedures that optimize materials recovery in vehicle dismantling.
- Researching separation technologies for commingled material streams.
- Initiating efforts targeted at removing substances of concern from shredder residue, regardless of its source.
A plastics sorting Pilot Plant in operation at Argonne is one of the more visible demonstrations of the CRADA team's research in action. "While the CRADA team is benchmarking and evaluating a range of technology options for sustainable recycling of ELV, the facility at Argonne serves as a focal point for the team's work," said Ed Daniels, director, Energy Systems Division at Argonne and head of the vehicle recycling research effort at the Laboratory.
The team also is working to anticipate and meet the recycling needs for
components and parts in future and emerging vehicles such as hybrids and
fuel cell vehicles.
"With energy issues at the forefront, lightweighting and the use of
composite materials are becoming more commonplace in vehicle content," said
Jim Kolb, head of the American Chemistry Council's Automotive Learning
Center. "As a result, solving the issues surrounding end-of-life for
present and future materials becomes all that more important."
The research is funded by the VRP, the Plastics Division of the
American Chemistry Council and U.S. DOE Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle
The VRP is part of the United States Council for Automotive Research,
under which DaimlerChrysler AG, Ford Motor Company and General Motors
Corporation cooperatively address shared technological and environmental
Argonne National Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory
managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC. Argonne's mission is to serve the nation
by advancing the frontiers of knowledge and by providing innovative and
effective approaches and solutions to energy, environmental, and security
The Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council, a leading
trade association of resin producers, advocates unlimited opportunities for
plastics and promotes their economic, environmental and societal benefits.
For more information, visit http://www.uscar.org.