Recycling firms hoping to get their newest technologies before durable goods manufacturers and their suppliers are looking to a referee organization in the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences. The Ann Arbor, Mich., non-profit group is forming a recycling project with a five-year, $8 million budget. The project will analyze new recycling technologies for automotive parts, computers and major appliances.
Final pacts among corporate participants have not been signed, and NCMS officials did not elaborate on many details.
Nonetheless, NCMS is bringing together domestic automakers, their suppliers, the American Plastics Council in Washington, computer manufacturers and the Defense and Energy departments. The project will be called ``Recovery, Characterization and Reuse of Plastic Materials.''
Clare Vinton, an NCMS senior program manager, noted that NCMS is not favoring a single recycling technology: ``We're trying to make everyone aware of technology - everyone can make a choice.''
Ford Motor Co., which expects to take part in the project, is intent on doubling the amount of recycled plastics in its vehicles next year. The Dearborn, Mich., firm has told its suppliers it will give preferential treatment in the awarding of contracts to those who use recycled materials.
James Best, president of Market Search Inc. in Toledo, Ohio, said Ford ``has found a way of putting teeth'' into its goal while controlling costs.
``The others [General Motors and Chrysler] are doing a lot of work, but I haven't seen an official policy from any of the others,'' said Best, who tracks trends on plastics applications in the automotive industry for suppliers.
Seventy-five percent of NCMS funding is from industry and 25 percent from government, Vinton said. The Defense Department is interested because it is the largest single domestic consumer of both automobiles and computers, he said.
President Michael Biddle of MBA Polymers, a Berkeley, Calif., recycling company, said MBA is one of the places NCMS will conduct recycling research.
MBA is an APC contractor, Biddle said, but he and M. Allen Maten, APC director of durable recycling, declined to say how much APC has funded research at the company.