Because of their made-to-order properties, some engineering thermoplastics have been difficult to recycle, but a Flint, Mich., firm has discovered a way to handle this tall order. American Commodities Inc., a full-service plastic recycling house, has developed a blended plastic alloy process and product that restores post-consumer car parts to near-virgin resin performance properties.
The product line, called Enviraloy, is made of such reasonably ``exotic'' resins as polycarbonate/polybutylene terephthal-ate blends, acrylic, polypheny-lene oxide and nylon 6/6 from car bumpers, fascias, quarter panels, and splash shields.
The reprocessed materials cost from 10-40 percent less than virgin resin, according to Mark Lieberman, president of American Commodities.
``Enviraloy was a logical extension of what we had been doing for years, which was recycling plastic and removing paint from plastic parts,'' said Lieberman.
It took six years to develop ACI's closed-loop, patented process to reconstitute and regenerate the plastic to the point where it could perform to the specifications of automakers and aftermarket parts suppliers.
The process involves sortation and separation of scrap parts, one or more cleaning cycles, metal separation, grinding and paint removal, chemical enhancement and molecular reorientation to restore some virgin properties.
ACI now sells material to all the major automakers and their suppliers. Enviraloy is used in a range of parts including bumper bracket reinforcements and air dams and ducts.
The material is being tested in fascia, and bumper exteriors. It recently won the Michigan Small Business Product of the Year Award from the Michigan Small Business Association, and the closed-loop process used to produce it won the group's Industrial Innovation Award.
Although ACI operates out of its one Flint plant right now, Lieberman said he has plans to add manufacturing sites across the country to make the collection and processing of scrap more effective.
The company now works with more than 300 automotive dismantlers to assure its supply of scrap. The Flint plant produces about 20 million pounds per year of flake and pellet, including both Enviraloy and commodity plastics.