Essential information for end of life vehicle dismantling, depollution and recycling


What discoveries from car bumpers?

The Plastics Industry Association, a trade organisation in the U.S. is to team up with some partners to find out what value can be made from car bumpers. Something the organisation hope to see affordably collected and processed.


Vice president of sustainability at the Plastics Industry Association, Kim Holmes says, “There is a lot of plastic on vehicles, and we expect it to keep increasing. Meanwhile, much of it, including bumpers, is not recovered at the end of life, resulting in lost value,” She continues, “What’s left after marketed parts are pulled goes to a shredder where metals are recovered, and what’s left after shredding is landfilled in the U.S.”

Salvage yards and processors were enlisted by the Plastics Industry Association for its ELV recycling demonstration project and decided to hone in on bumpers for three reasons: Their size; there’s a lot of material to recover. Their proximity, being external parts, they are easy to get to. And finally, most bumpers are made of the same resin, negating the need for highly sophisticated sorting.

The resin is thermoplastic polyolefins (TPO), polypropylene modified with a rubber package, which has impact and durability benefits.

During the project, salvage yards prepared bales of bumpers from different makes and models that were less than 25 years old.. They were then shipped to processors.

Holmes said, “We started sending samples to be moulded and tested and got promising feedback about the potential for the material. We were hearing if we could crank up collection and supply, there could be good demand.”

One early finding she considered especially encouraging is that end-of-life (post-consumer) bumpers can be handled by many of the same recyclers who work with postindustrial bumpers. So, if post-consumer bumpers don’t meet specs for reuse, they could potentially go to recyclers and undergo similar processes to prepare them to be put back into manufacturing.

“What we’ve learned so far is that there’s potential to recover very valuable material from vehicles. We hope if we are successful that this effort will serve as the beginning of a framework for collection of plastics from repair and end-of-life vehicles to go beyond bumpers. We hope we can go on to extract more value from other plastic vehicle components as well,” says Holmes.

Currently, other recyclers and end-users are participating in ongoing evaluations to explore market opportunities of recycled TPO. And the Plastics Industry Association is working on a wrap-up report of the most recent of several study phases. The report will be released by the end of 2018.

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management [e2e] is the UK’s only salvage and automotive recycling network with nationwide, environmentally compliant sites delivering performance resilience and service reliability to the insurance and fleet markets.  The network’s online salvage auction drives strong salvage resale values and faster sales.  e2e’s salvage clients have access to the network’s stocks of over 5 million quality graded, warranty assured reclaimed parts. 

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