DALLAS - European subsidies to recycle polymer composites are advancing the technologies both for applications and processing, according to one recycling expert at Composites '96. ``As those two things come up, you are going to see recycling become more economical,'' said Jack Sim-mons, marketing manager for R.J. Marshall Co. in South-field, Mich., a producer of designer particulates and recycling concepts.
``If someone can find an application for a recyclate stream, all of a sudden that shift is going to be dramatic and make recycling economical.''
In Europe, incentives and disincentives make recycling more economical than in the United States. European countries, for example, charge 9-111/2 cents per pound to dispose of material in a landfill, and German auto companies must take back vehicles and recycle them.
``In the U.S., most of the recycling systems that we would like to see are simply not economical,'' he said. ``They are trending in the right direction, but they are not there.''
He cited conservation as the culprit.
``In the last five years, the auto industry has cut scrap rates so they don't have anything to recycle,'' Simmons noted. ``That gives a profound positive effect in the economics of their operation and a negative effect in terms of recycling. There is nothing to recycle.''
Two major categories of recyclable materials in the United States are molding compounds and spray-up applications.
Recycling of primarily automotive sheet molding compounds and bulk molding compounds is ``a highly political issue,'' he said. ``Auto companies want to be good citizens and recycle so they are pushing to have recyclable SMC and BMC.''
The downside: they don't want to pay. Auto companies ``want recycling at a zero cost,'' he said. ``They simply have taken the attitude, rightly or wrongly, that they can't afford to have any extra costs in their automobiles.''
Different circumstances exist for spray-up applications.
``Individual people can buy small grinders and recycle their own trim scrap,'' Simmons said. ``These systems are just now starting to become economical.''
A 42-page ``Recycling'' paper prepared by Simmons was part of a Composites '96 certificate program Oct. 5.
Custom composite molder Contemporary Products Inc. is talking with external original-equipment customers ``to see what we as an industry can do when a product is at the end of its useful life,'' Russell Fisher, chief executive officer, said in an interview at Composites '96.
Fisher believes most companies have developed internal recycling programs but that industry has not addressed the external issues. Contemporary Products is ``always looking for ways to recycle,'' but he sees that industry has been putting the composite materials into the landfill.
``I hope there will be reclamation centers or groups that will offer programs that composites people can buy into,'' he said, ``rather than internally try to develop this on our own. Companies of our size [90 employees] do not have the resources or time to do it on our own.''