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Research on recycling

Why mainly plastics?

Recycling the metallic parts of a car (75%) is a mature industry: metal recovery is now standard practice, and the process is already quite fully developed. The remaining non-metallic part (25%) is mainly plastics, whose identification, separation, reusability and recyclability is much more difficult (and expensive) to accomplish.

Comprising well over 40 partners from eight EU Member States, the European Thematic Network included:

  • car producers;
  • plastics manufacturers;
  • dismantlers (businesses that recover ELVs, drain the liquids out of cars, then remove parts or materials either for reconditioning and resale, or for recycling, such as the glass windows);
  • shredders (operators that smash and shred the vehicle body into fist-sized pieces for easier recycling);
  • recyclers;
  • plastic part suppliers;
  • research institutes.

Car plastic fuel tanks

Nearly one in two new cars now has a plastic fuel tank made from high-density polyethylene. These tanks have two major problems which limit their recyclability: ease-of-removal from the car, and fuel contamination. Recafuta successfully developed a quick way of dismantling tanks and a method for decontaminating the material so that it could be used again to make new fuel tanks. This process is known as a closed recycling loop where the material from a product is used repeatedly to make the same kind of product.

J-M. Yernaux


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Recycling vehicles