Plastics recycler Ultra-Poly, based in Portland, Pa., has launched what it claims is a "first-of-its-kind bumper recycling program."
The recycler was one of several who worked on a Plastics Industry Association End of Life Vehicle (ELV) project, and now has a system to collect used bumper covers directly from autobody shops for processing into new compounds and components.
While the ELV project demonstrated that, due to surface finish issues, the fascia material was unsuitable for reprocessing into new fascia, Ultra-Poly saw the material's potential for other uses. These included other polypropylene compounds as well as out-of-sight applications in automotive and in other industrial markets.
The company collaborated with Tier 1 automotive supplier Autoneum North America Inc. to develop a product that uses the recycled bumper material as a rigid backing substrate for a fibrous layer, creating a composite used in vibration and noise attenuation in a chassis component. The material is listed in the International Material Data System (IMDS).
"With the increasing challenge of OEM's to require more and more recycled content, this product delivers on that challenge, enabling us to become more sustainable as a company by reducing our carbon footprint and engineering a product from the ground up with End of Life recycling in mind to ultimately reach the end goal of a circular economy,” said Autoneum's Dan Moler, vice president of product development and engineering.
According to Ultra-Poly, autobody shops gain tangible benefit from participating in the program by having these large, bulky items removed from their waste roll-offs, reducing costs.
The material produced from the recycled bumper covers is of a consistently high quality with "a great balance of stiffness and toughness," said Ultra-Poly, and is certified as having 100 percent post-consumer content. It is now available to be sampled and used by any automotive manufacturer or supplier for other potential programs.
"This is a groundbreaking program that will help advance the automotive industry closer to achieving the standards of a circular economy," said Kevin Cronin, vice president of sustainability and R&D.
“Everyone benefits — body shops, recyclers, automotive part manufacturers, OEM's and most importantly, the environment,” Moler said.
Ultra-Poly operates at five locations in Pennsylvania, supplying over 1 million pounds of recycled resin daily.The company produces custom compounded polypropylene and polyethylene resins from recycled plastics and provides toll reprocessing services for plant-generated scrap in several different industries.