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Car Bumpers

In 2007 Blue Planet initiated a bumper recycling program by developing a technique where scrap bumpers were first processed, extruded and finally compounded into a utility grade polypropylene pellet.  The initiative was very successful. Since 2008 Blue Planet has led the way in the field of bumper recycling on the west coast.  Partnerships with car industry distributors and bumper refurbishers continues to grow, and in 2012 a partnership deal was initiated with the two bumper refurbishers in BC to collect all car bumpers from body shops for recycling. The volume is an estimated 90,000 lbs per month.

It all starts with efficient collections.  Car bumpers are laborious to collect because they are widely spread out at body shops, weigh very little and are very bulky.  Many programs require the funding participation of the generator to be successful for this reason.

Once bumpers are collected at a central sorting facility, roughly 10% are selected for refurbishing and resale into the used bumper market.  The remainder are shredded, ground and pelletized in a compounding process that makes PP pellets.  A car bumpers unique qualities of impact resistance and tough ruggedness are then utilized for finished products such as plant pots, DVD cases and many packaging options.

Here are some examples of how car manufacturers utilize recycled resins from car bumpers and other sources in their vehicles:

  • Chrysler uses recycled polyurethane foam plastic in the seat cushions of its Jeep Grand Cherokee. The wheel liners on the Jeep Wrangler and Chrysler 200 are made with 64% recycled plastics. In 2013, nearly 40% of the thermoplastics (the most widely used types of plastics in autos) in Chrysler’s European vehicles were recycled product.
  • Ford uses recycled plastics to create upholstery for passenger seat cushions in many of their models. For example, the seat fabric for each Focus is made with approximately 22 plastic water bottles. The company used more than 50 million lbs of post-consumer recycled plastics on the exterior of Ford vehicles made in North America—that equals nearly 18 lbs per vehicle on average. In the U.K., Ford also collects damaged bumpers to make plastic materials for replacement bumpers.
  • Honda recycles scrap bumpers generated during the manufacturing process. Plastics from bumpers produced at 5 Honda plants in the U.S. and Canada are reformulated and reused in Honda’s supply chain to make mud and splash guards.
  • GM uses air deflectors (used to direct airflow) for its Volt made from plastic caps, bottles, and other recycled materials. The company also uses plastic caps and shipping aids from its Fort Wayne facility to make radiator shrouds (used to protect the radiator) for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups built there.
  • Nissan uses plastic fibres made from used bottles as the main component in sound insulation layers in their dashboards.The automaker also uses plastics recycled from bumpers to create new bumpers, as well as plastics recycled from bottle caps to make new auto parts.
  • Toyota uses recycled plastics throughout its vehicles. The company recently announced that 20% of the plastics used in its vehicles are made with recycled plastics or derived from plant materials.

*Information from plasticsmakesitpossible.com

 

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