We've seen plenty of pilot recycling programs in the past decade, and if we've learned anything from experience, we know that success at the pilot level doesn't mean diddly.
So while we're encouraged by the results of a DaimlerChrysler-led automotive plastics recycling project, we caution processors and material suppliers from reading too much into the reports.
DaimlerChrysler AG announced the results of the automated plastics sorting study last month at the Society of Plastics Engineers Global Plastics Environmental Conference in Detroit. The preliminary word: The system can recover plastics from automotive shredder residue without a lot of complicated disassembly.
If the test results work on a larger scale, it could mean the end of a major headache for automakers and their suppliers. In recent years they've spent a lot of time and money trying to come up with a magical interior that is easy-to-recycle, no more expensive than current products, and with the looks and performance that will please consumers. Most of the effort has centered on monomaterial thermoplastic systems, including all-polyolefin varieties.
But before suppliers abandon those efforts, remember the pilot studies of the past that ``proved'' disposable diapers, juice boxes, and other nearly impossible-to-recycle products could be recycled.
Commercializing the technology will be the real test. In the meantime, we're pleased with DaimlerChrysler's efforts, especially with its push to get processors to boost their recycled plastics use.