A Belgian company is leading the commercialization of a process to mechanically separate thermoplastics from automotive shredder residue, making it financially viable to recover a variety of polymers used in vehicles.
Salyp NV of Ieper already has a contract with a major European auto recycling yard, and it has licensed companies to market the system globally.
``You can't make economic sense out of a dismantling recycling operation for plastics,'' said Rick Abell, president of 21st Century Polymers & Associates Inc., which is representing the Salyp system in the United States. ``We're creating an economically viable system to drive the recycling,''
Salyp worked with the Vehicle Recycling Partnership, a multi-company group operating in Detroit that led research into an inexpensive method to remove thermoplastics from the automotive waste stream.
Last year the group showed off vehicles with components produced from plastics recovered from automotive shredder residue through a system developed by Recovery Plastics International LLC of Salt Lake City at the Society of Plastics Engineers' Global Plastics Environmental Conference in Detroit.
Now 21st Century Polymers and Salyp are making the rounds to introduce the automated system and equipment to auto scrap yards while also looking to sign up processors and compounders to use the recovered resins, Abell said Feb. 26 at the 2003 GPEC event in Detroit.
Auto recycling companies focus on recovering the metal in vehicles. The leftover material - such as plastics, copper wiring, textiles and foam - typically end up shipped to a landfill, where recyclers may end up paying $15-$20 a ton to get rid of it.
The automated system now being sold by Salyp separates out various parts of that residue, including plastics, by specifically targeting the chemical structure of the polymers. Scrap yards can then sell the recovered material.
Abell's company, in addition to selling Salyp's system, also will buy recovered resin, potentially filling two points in the missing infrastructure pipeline needed to create a complete system. Those missing pieces are needed before any real action can be taken to create a real auto recycling program, said Gerald Winslow, programs manager for DaimlerChrysler AG's VRP group.
21st Century teamed with injection molder Mayco Plastics Inc. of Sterling Heights, Mich., to produce a polypropylene battery support tray made with resin recovered by Salyp to demonstrate the program. The PP came in at less than half the price of virgin material, Abell said.
``The demand will come, because it offers something cheaper, especially now when the industry is leaning on suppliers to reduce costs,'' Abell said.