TOKYO — Nissan Motor Co. said it is the first in the industry to achieve what long has been the Holy Grail of recycling: turning used plastic auto parts into new parts that serve the same purpose.
Until now, degradation during recycling, caused by contamination from foreign matter, meant that plastic from a given part usually was used to make a less-critical part.
However, Nissan said it has overcome that problem.
As proof, it will recycle four types of parts: bumpers, instrument panels, ventilation ducts and floor carpets. The new parts will be used in a small, electric-powered vehicle that will go on sale early next fall.
By closing the loop on plastic parts recycling, Nissan will ensure a stable demand for its recycled parts, thus resolving another frequent headache for recyclers, the company said.
Working with suppliers and other companies, Nissan has developed separating, sorting and recycling technologies tailored to the structure and material composition of individual parts.
The carmaker's efforts allowed it to identify potential problems in the recycling of current parts and use that information to improve the design for recyclability of future products and to ensure the high added value of recycled materials.
Three recycling technologies are used:
Bumpers. The paint film is stripped off mechanically from crushed bumper fragments without using chemicals.
Instrument panels and ventilation ducts. The used parts are crushed, and then metals and other foreign materials are removed.
Carpets. First, the dust is removed, and the carpets are crushed. Then fibers are separated from plastics and recycled.