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Monday, July 30, 2007

Vehicle Recycling Infrastructure in North America

Re-Think Recycling

The world of the automotive recycler has been infiltrated. Their secrets exposed, their operation examined. Are they upset? Do they want justice? Not in the slightest. In fact, the raid was their idea in the first place.

Top executives representing Canada’s most influential insurance companies were invited to take a look inside three of Ontario’s biggest and busiest recyclers, Dom’s Auto Parts, Standard Auto Wreckers and Carcone’s Auto Recycling and Wheel Refinishing.

There is a lot of hearsay about what goes on in the recycling yard. This was the day to set the record straight.

At 8:00 a.m. the bus leaves for Dom’s Auto Parts in Oshawa. As we arrive the group is educated on the beginning stages of recycling a vehicle.

Clean up of the part is extremely important to the insurance company, so owner Dom Vetere is particular in explaining how his team dismantles each vehicle properly in order to provide the best quality product. The group of insurance brokers is clearly impressed with the facility.

“It’s an eye opener,” proclaims Dominic Maurini, ING Direct. “It’s refreshing to see how organized everyone is.”

Following the presentation the bus ventures into the massive 55 acre spread. Dom explains how the cars are categorized.

“It’s much more high-tech than it used to be,” says Dom. “All parts are bar coded, tagged and entered in the computer, making the operation easier to regulate and much more efficient.”

The tour heads next to Standard Auto Wreckers in Scarborough where owner Dave Gold discusses parts grading. Each part is coded to accurately assess the amount of damage. “Grading hones in on where the damage is,” he explains.

The group is then ushered toward a fleet of golf carts waiting to be driven through what feels like an endless collection of car mirrors, doors, bumpers, front ends and grills.

Standard Auto Wreckers is famous for their ‘You Pick’ weekends where people are invited to stroll through the yard and pick out whatever pieces they desire.

The last stop on the tour is Carcone’s Auto Recycling and Wheel Refinishing in Aurora.

Here the insurers are introduced to Carcone’s famous wheel room, where wheels from all salvaged cars are taken, restructured and refinished through stages of power coating, aluminum shaving and painting to look brand new.

“This is quite the operation,” says Rich Zamperin of Allstate Insurance.

After the wheel room the insurance brokers get an inside look at the soft ware Carcone’s uses to price out vehicles they want to buy from an auction.

“It’s interesting,” says Dominic Maurini, “The buying and selling of parts has escalated to the point of an art form.”

One thing is clear, the communication barrier between these two industries has been dissolved, and hopes for the future are high.

Written by Andrea Smitko, Collision Repair Magazine

Monday, July 16, 2007

European End of life Vehicle Directive

The European Commission has been striving for a legally binding framework to address the issue of end-of-life vehicle (ELV) management in Europe. A number of European countries have already adopted their own take-back programs but the Commission is hoping that legislation consistent across all Member States will reduce the inefficiencies that result from incompatible national initiatives. These inefficiencies often result in trade and competition distortions and higher overall costs.

The ELV Directive applies the "Extended Producer Responsibility Principle", requiring manufacturers to take back vehicles once they have reached the end of their lives at no cost to the consumer. The directive also specifies a number of additional requirements for vehicle manufacturers, material manufacturers and Member States.

Prevention Requirements
The ELV Directive calls for vehicle manufacturers to eliminate by July 1, 2003, the use of hazardous substances, including lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium and cadmium (with a few exceptions) in the vehicle production process. This is meant not only to protect the environment from the release of such hazardous substances, but also to make the recycling process easier. The proposed Directive also calls for manufacturers to re- examine their design considerations and incorporate concepts such as design-for- dismantling and design-for-recycling. Manufacturers are encouraged to utilize more recycled content in new vehicles, providing new markets for the recycled materials that would result from the recycling process.

Collection Requirements
Member States will be required to ensure that an adequate collection system is in place for all end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) and that all ELVs are transferred to legitimate treatment facilities at the cost of the producer. A "certificate of destruction" is also required to de-register the vehicle. De-registration must be done by the vehicle’s last owner at a licensed dismantler. All dismantlers must obtain a permit to handle ELVs. Permit conditions include credited de-pollution procedures and designated parts removal in order to facilitate the reuse and recycling of batteries, tires, operating fluids, hazardous components, CFCs and air bags.

Treatment Requirements
Each Member State must ensure that all end-of-life vehicles are stored and treated in an environmentally sound manner by certified treatment operations.

Re-use and Recovery Requirements
The proposed directive sets clear, quantifiable targets and places responsibility for the reuse, recycling and recovery of vehicles and their components on the automobile producers. The ELV directive mandates recycling rates of 80 and 85 percent, respectively, for vehicles put on the market after 2006 and 2015. Recovery targets (which States must ensure that vehicle producers, in partnership with material and equipment manufacturers, adopt consistent coding standards for materials and components to facilitate an easier dismantling process. Manufacturers must produce and distribute disassembly manuals within six months after a vehicle is put on the market to assist certified auto recyclers with recycling and to aid certified treatment operators in the identification of hazardous components.

Reporting and Information Requirements
Vehicle manufacturers are obligated to compile specific data and report regularly to designated authorities. The data in the following list must also be provided to prospective vehicle buyers as part of the promotional material for the vehicle.

Required data includes information on:
- the design of vehicles and their components with a view to their recoverability and recyclability;
- the environmentally sound treatment of end-of-life vehicles, in particular the removal of all fluids before dismantling;
- the development and optimization of ways to re-use, recycle and recover end-of- life vehicles and their components; and,
- the progress achieved with respect to recovery and recycling in reducing the waste-requiring disposal and to increase the recovery and recycling rates
In turn, Member States are required to report to the European Commission every three years so that it can determine whether targets are being met and whether goals need to be revisited or adjusted.

Implementation Requirements
Member States are required to bring the ELV Directive into force five years after the adoption of the Directive by the European Commission. Enforcement is mandatory, and objectives have to be met within the established timelines. In cases of non-compliant organizations, Member States are required to take regulatory or administrative measures. The ELV Directive is still before parliament and therefore a work in progress. If adopted this year, vehicle manufacturers will have until 2006 to prepare for taking some financial responsibility for the take-back and recycling of end-of-life vehicles. There has been a great deal of discussion around who should take responsibility for older vehicles (those produced before 2006) that were not designed with future disassembly or recycling in mind. After significant amendment, it is now up to Member States to ensure that producers meet all, or a significant part of, the costs associated with the implementation of this Directive without hindering the functioning of market forces.

DIRECTIVE 2000/53/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 18 September 2000 on end-of life vehicles

Auto Fluff - What to do with the remaining 25 percent?

The recycling of scrap metals from automobiles is a little known success story. While community and municipal blue box campaigns tout a 25 percent success rate, a 75 percent recycling rate for automobiles is often overlooked. However, the 25 percent that remains, called auto fluff, is a recycling dilemma that demands attention and solutions. Why?

Estimates indicate that 700 000 automobiles are disposed of in Canada annually, generating approximately 700 000 tonnes of ferrous scrap materials and 200 000 tonnes of auto fluff. Auto fluff is a complex mixture of non-ferrous materials including plastics, foam, textiles, rubber and glass. Because this fluff is complex and is contaminated with rust, dirt and a variety of fluids, its recyclability poses a challenge to Canadian shredding operators.

As well as the difficulties inherent in recycling auto fluff materials, Canada's recycling industry must also deal with recent auto manufacturing trends. In an effort to achieve better fuel economy and reduce emissions, automobile manufacturers are using lighter weight, non-metallic materials. Newer automobiles are manufactured using less metal, while the use of plastics and other non-ferrous components is increasing. The net effect leaves shredders with lower volumes of recyclable metal and greater volumes of auto fluff for disposal or recycling.

Consequently, the need to explore new and innovative ways to recycle auto fluff, or to recover valuable resource material from this waste, is an urgent environmental and economic issue. The National Research Council's Institute for Environmental Research and Technology works with Canada's plastics industry, auto manufacturers and shredding operators to identify opportunities to recover potentially valuable resources from this waste stream. Some options being investigated are the use of the material as an alternative landfill day cover, the combination of auto fluff materials with other recycled plastics to produce composite materials, and using shredded material as a pyrolytic feedstock to recover chemicals and fuels.

Recycling Automotive Glass

Currently, about 75 percent of junked vehicles are shredded to recover iron and steel. After the ferrous material is magnetically separated, the remainder (225-250 kg/car) contains 16 percent of glass originating from windshields, side windows and sunroofs, most of which is not normally recovered and ends up in landfill.

Experienced car dismantlers report that up to 30 percent of windshields are broken, because of current methods of sealing and trimming. Unless car makers change design practices, this breakage rate is unlikely to decline. Current practices in glass recovery include removal for reuse, cryogenic "crumbing" of glass windshields and heat-assisted separation of sandwiched glass. A Japanese company, Asahi Glass Co. Ltd., has patented a method where the laminate is softened, allowing for the recovery of glass without contamination by plastics.

New developments in auto glass such as "heads-up display," quick defrost windshields, new tinting techniques, metallic crystal alignment films and implosion proofing by a new inner polymer laminate will further complicate the recovery or reuse of these glasses.

Recycled glass is put to various uses. If uncontaminated by plastic, it can be melted and spun into fibreglass or moulded into other products. Other uses include glass beads and reflective additives. Impure glass can also be considered for incorporation into architectural aggregate, or ground for abrasives.

Used Oil Recycling

Of the approximately 1 billion litres of lubricating oil sold in Canada each year, only 250 million litres are currently recovered. The process of returning used oil back to its original useful state is called "re-refining." Used oil can be re-refined into lubricating oil many times with only minor losses and the process takes only one-third the energy of refining crude oil into lubricating oil.

Lubricating oil consists of hydrocarbons (long chains of carbon atoms). Most lubricating oil molecules will generally have between twenty-five and forty carbon atoms in these hydrocarbon chains. Collected used oil is usually a mixture of different types of lubricating oils, which has been contaminated or chemically changed. Dirt, metal particles, fuels, oxidized oil and water are the most common contaminants. Chemical changes are also possible where one or more of the hydrogen atoms in the hydrocarbon chain is replaced by oxygen, sulphur, or other elements or molecules.

One commercial process for recycling used oil is known as the vacuum distillation/hydrotreating process. It involves two basic steps: a distillation step to remove trapped waste water and fuel, and a hydrotreating step to remove other impurities such as sulphur, nitrogen and chlorinated compounds.

Distillation of used oil occurs in four stages. The first stage removes water, most of the solvents and any light fuels (e.g., gasoline). The separated water is treated in the wastewater treatment system and released back into the environment, while the light organics are used as fuel at the site. The dewatered oil goes through a second distillation step where the remaining fuel oils are removed in a vacuum fuel stripper. In this process, the oil is heated under vacuum at lower temperatures, thus avoiding the high temperatures that would cause the hydrocarbon chains to break into small fragments or coke up (form a solid material similar to coal). The removed product, a material similar to home heating fuel, is used as fuel at the re-refinery.

The third and fourth distillation steps are identical and are performed in machines called thin film evaporators. These evaporators operate at lower vacuum and higher temperatures than the vacuum fuel stripper. The objective is to vaporize the lubricating oil as gas, leaving the dirt and other physical impurities behind. In the thin film evaporators, the oil flows down a double-pipe heat exchanger where a set of wiper blades spreads it against the wall of the central pipe. This aids the evaporation process. The lubricating oil gases are collected and condensed into liquid oil. Any material that does not evaporate in the third and fourth stage evaporator can be used as an asphalt extender in roofing and asphalt paving.

After distillation, the liquid oil is chemically treated using hydrogen gas at high temperature and high pressure. These conditions result in replacing any missing hydrogen atoms in the hydrocarbon chains and effectively removing sulphur, chlorine, oxygen and other impurities.

The final oil product is a base-oil stock of a quality similar to the virgin lubricating oil. The recycled oil is blended with different additives to produce motor oils, hydraulic oils or other specialty oils.

Information provided by: Frank Wagner at 1-800-265-2792 ext. 325, Safety-Kleen, Breslau, Environmental Health and Safety Department.

Scrap Tire Recycling

At present, approximately 40% of the scrap tires produced annually in Canada and the United States are reused, recycled or recovered. Since 1990, when 14 million tires caught fire in Hagersville, Ontario, provincial regulations have limited the number of tires that can be buried in landfills or stored above ground. While landfill use is declining, the recycling of tires is growing. However, demanding product specifications for safe, durable tires make them more difficult and expensive to break down. Some experts say that reclaiming original components from scrap tires is like trying to recycle a cake back into its original ingredients.

Tires, which are generally composed of approximately 65% rubber, 10% fibre and 25% steel by weight, can be recycled in two forms: processed and whole. Whole tire recycling involves using the old tire, as is, for other purposes (e.g., landscape borders, playground structures, dock bumpers and highway crash barriers). The recycling of processed tires, on the other hand, requires first reducing the tire to smaller pieces. This can be accomplished by chopping, shredding, or grinding at ambient or cryogenic temperature. Cryogenic processing involves cooling scrap tire rubber with liquid nitrogen. Rubber, steel, and fibre are then separated out using magnets, screens and density techniques. The main difference between ambient and cryogenic methods is that they produce products of different size and have readily apparent cost differences. Cryogenic processing achieves smaller rubber particles than ambient processing, but is more costly. Crumb rubber (from either process) can be used as a substitute for virgin rubber in a variety of products such as bonding tape, irrigation pipes, carpet underlay, footwear, recreational surfaces, waterproofing compounds for roofs and walls, joint and crack sealants, and as an additive in asphalt cement for paving roads. Finely processed, cryogenic ground rubber can be combined with polymers to produce materials used in applications traditionally reserved for plastics.

Approximately 60% of scrap tires are currently used as fuel. Whole or shredded tires are burned (scrap tires have about 10% more heat value by weight than coal). Fifteen percent of processed scrap tires are recycled into rubber products and twenty five percent are used as gravel substitutes in landfill liners and experimental road beds.

Automotive Battery Recycling

There are approximately 20 million vehicles in service on Canadian roads, with each car or truck having a lead-acid battery containing 8-12 kg of lead. Lead-acid batteries are classified as secondary (rechargeable) wet cell batteries. These batteries are composed of a plastic casing containing several cells connected in series to give a total battery potential of about 12 V. The anode consists of a lead grid filled with spongy lead, and the cathode is a lead grid filled with lead dioxide. Both electrodes are immersed in a solution of 38% (by weight) sulphuric acid. When the battery discharges, solid lead sulphate formed in the cell reaction adheres to the grid surfaces of the electrodes and the sulphuric acid is consumed. Charging the battery, by passing a direct current through it, reverses the chemical changes and regenerates the acid.

The demand for lead-acid batteries shows steady growth, and is likely to continue to grow in the foreseeable future because of both the growth in conventional vehicles and the emerging popularity of the electric car. While a number of battery technologies are under development, it is generally believed that none yet offers comparable economies to the lead-acid battery. At present, approximately 90% of used lead-acid batteries are being recycled. The lead-acid battery recycling industry must address a number of environmental issues regarding air, water, and solid waste management practices that have an impact on the collection, transportation, and recycling of spent batteries.

The commercial process used to recycle lead-acid batteries is designed to recover:

The lead sulphate/lead oxide battery paste (after desulphurization), which is later treated in a smelting furnace to recover lead.

Lead grids and poles, which can be treated in a smelting furnace with a metal yield of 90%.

Polypropylene, which can be sold directly or upgraded to produce high-quality pellets.

Anhydrous sodium sulphate, as a detergent-grade product for resale to detergent manufacturers and glass works.
The main features of the recycling process include:

Pre-crushing of batteries to remove the sulphuric acid solution.

Initial separation of iron material by a magnetic separator.

Wet-screening to separate the battery paste (a mixture of lead sulphate and lead oxide).

Separation of the metallic lead and plastic components in a hydrodynamic separator, isolating the various components due to their density differences. In water, polypropylene floats, lead sinks and separator material and ebonite overflow to a vibrating screen. The water used in the hydrodynamic separator is collected in settling tanks for reuse.

The recovered battery paste is treated with a sodium carbonate solution in a desulphurization process to convert the lead sulphate to lead carbonate and sodium sulphate. The former is treated for lead production. Because the lead sulphate has been converted to carbonate form, the smelting process operates at lower temperature with no sulphur oxide emissions. The sodium sulphate solution is crystallized and dried to produce a detergent-grade sodium sulphate powdered product. May 1996

Friday, July 13, 2007

Twin virtues of wrecking yard

Much has changed in the automotive landscape over the past 30 years, but a trip to the wrecker's yard can be like going back in time.

You might be greeted by a surly counterman, who will – in an offhand fashion – send you to forage for the part you want. You may still have to bring your own tools and trudge across a yard slimy with mud and a cocktail of automotive fluids. And once you've extracted a serviceable specimen of the part in question, you might see the yard owner slip the cash you hand him right into his hip pocket.

Arrive after hours and you may well get to meet his dogs.

But auto wreckers are evolving, even if there are lingering images of grimy, polluted mud-yards operating on the margins of civil society. The image in some cases remains accurate, but often ironic, too. This is an industry built upon two of the saintliest environmental virtues: reuse and recycling.

The culture and processes that result in cubes or pancakes of crushed metal being shipped to the shredders – usually with a human body inside, according to Hollywood – are only part of the auto wreckers' story. And many in the business could use a little help from the public to remake the image, especially when it comes to reusing perfectly good automotive parts.

"We're really happy to sell the parts," says David Gold, president of Standard Auto Wreckers in Scarborough. "The trouble is the public doesn't know we exist. Some of my own relatives go out and pay $400 for a new alternator, when I've got 10 of them for $75 that I can't get rid of."

Reuse can range from customers pulling a heater-control lever out of an old Civic in the U-Pull-It section, to a local repair shop purchasing a serviceable engine off the shelf to extend the life of a neighbour's beloved Nissan Axxess, to a body shop snapping up an entire front-end structure from a wreck that got rear-ended so it can repair a similar vehicle with frontal damage.

Much of the growth in parts reuse has been driven by auto insurers trying to keep premiums down.

Standard Auto Wreckers, which also has a new 4.5-hectare indoor facility in upstate New York, uses a warren of old portables for offices at its original Scarborough location.

Most of the outdoors is unpaved, but you're likely to be greeted by a friendly young woman at the reception desk. Gold himself looks like the proverbial nice young man, and if you met him outside work you might guess he's a laser eye surgeon.

But he is very much a businessman and he doesn't want to lose customers who can't find the parts they want. Things are organized at Standard; Gold has a department that sells new or reconditioned aftermarket parts. Another one does new wheels and tires. In a different area, four employees sit in front of computers. They're "attending" online auctions of salvage vehicles – wrecks that have been written off by the insurance companies.

A staffer named Ryan Pegg "wins" a late-90s Pontiac Grand Am for $600. His software program also lists the parts that Standard expects to sell – for a total of $2,750.

It all looks like easy money until Gold points out that the yard's overhead averages nearly $2,000 per vehicle.

Parts prices are elastic; inventory control software constantly monitors supply and demand and adjusts prices accordingly. Another program keeps track of interchangeability – letting a customer know, for example, whether he can use a headlamp from a 1995 Intrepid on his '97.

Buying salvage vehicles online has become nearly universal in the past few years. The practice relies on vendors providing truthful information on the cars' condition, and the industry has developed a protocol for doing that, using commonly agreed upon codes.

There's also the risk that the vehicle may acquire further damage – perhaps hit by a forklift – between purchase and delivery. "The auction houses don't really care," Gold says. "Their customers are the insurance companies."

Typically, a salvage car would be a 2001 model purchased for about $2,000. These vehicles represent about 15 per cent of the 400 autos that enter Standard's facility each week.

The other 85 per cent are mostly end-of-lifers – average model year 1990 – towed from pounds or driven in by their last owners. Some are donated through programs such as Car Heaven (the vehicle's scrap value goes to charity and the donor gets a tax receipt).

The going rate for scrap vehicles is $160 a tonne, Gold says.

A newly arrived scrapper's first appointment is with the hoist; all its fluids have to be drained. Radiators, oil pans and fuel tanks are simply cut open to let the stuff out. Four hydraulic jacks on the hoist can tip and tilt the car body to ensure every last drop gets out.

Air conditioning refrigerant is captured and disposed of according to set procedures. There's also a special recovery program for the mercury switches used in most modern cars. Standard also does the paperwork to de-register the vehicles, so the authorities know which vehicle identification numbers (VINs) no linger exist.

Nothing goes to waste. Batteries, wheels and tires are resold, if marketable. If not, they are recycled. Gasoline goes into a tank from which employees fill their own cars for free. Clean coolant is given away to customers.

Depending on marketability, remaining parts of the hulk either go straight to the crusher or spend four to six weeks in the U-Pull-It yard.

Elsewhere, in a heated shed closed to the public, Standard's employees remove saleable parts from the newer vehicles.

Every part destined for the warehouse gets a detailed, computer-generated tag. "A late-model car is just the box the parts came in," Gold says.

Increasingly, computers and online commerce mean trips to the wrecking yard are of the virtual variety.

On your home computer, you might click on
and enter the details of the part you need. The website searches members' inventories and lists recyclers that have it.

Miller's Auto Recycling in Fort Erie might be the one with the right part at the right price. You might contact the company, arrange shipping and payment on your credit card.

A few days later the part arrives at your front door – and all without going within five miles of a junkyard dog.

JEREMY SINEK - Apr 21, 2007, Toronto Star

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tire Recycling Overview

Tire recycling is the process of recycling vehicles tires (or tyres) that are no longer suitable for use on vehicles due to wear or irreparable damage (such as punctures). These tires are among the largest and most problematic sources of waste, due to the large volume produced and their durability...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Big 3 Auto Recycling Program To Expand Focus

USCAR announces contract with ECO2 Plastics to explore 'rinse and recycle' applications for end-of-life vehicles

The United States Council for Automotive Research's (USCAR) Vehicle Recycling Partnership (VRP), composed of researchers from DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corporation, recently announced an initiative to enable the recycling of all materials in shredder residue, regardless of their source.

As part of its work, the VRP recently contracted with ECO2 Plastics Inc. to evaluate its proprietary polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic recycling technology. The ECO2 technology removes substances of concern from plastics recovered from "shredder residue" -- the material left when end-of-life vehicles (ELV), household appliances and other large items are "shredded" by a large, grinding hammer-mill, or shredder, as part of their recycling process.

While the U.S. automakers have worked to eliminate substances of concern (SOCs) from general vehicle content, some SOCs can still be found in shredder residue, which contains materials from a combination of automotive and non-automotive sources, giving the program even broader potential for environmental leadership.

Currently, more than 84%, by weight of materials, of each ELV in the United States is recycled, with 95% of all vehicles going through the existing infrastructure. ECO2's proprietary recycling process addresses the plastics found in the unrecycled portion. If successful, such a system will enable recovered plastics to be more easily reused.

The USCAR VRP currently is engaged in a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council to address the sustainable recycling of current and future materials from ELVs. This is the third CRADA established among the participants since the inception of the VRP in 1991.

As part of the CRADA team, the VRP is collaborating with private industry and government to discover and implement innovative recycling solutions to enhance the current market-driven U.S. vehicle-recycling infrastructure.

ECO2's PET plastic recycling technology has the potential to be one of several recycling solutions for shredder residue that fits within the current U.S. recycling infrastructure.

By Brad Kenney,