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Thursday, December 31, 2009

LKQ Interview with American Recycler

Auto recycling is a crucial element of America’s recycling infrastructure as it oversees the end-of-life stage for millions of cars that are retired on an annual basis from the nation’s nearly 300 million vehicles.

Ensuring that it is economically viable and environmentally-friendly is essential to both recyclers and the general public, which at times does not recognize the full implications of having a system that dismantles vehicles to provide quality spare parts, provide steel mills with feedstock, recovers valuable non-ferrous metals and ensures that hazardous materials found in cars contaminate the environment.

Joseph Holsten, president and chief executive officer, LKQ Corporation, spoke with American Recycler about the current state of the industry.

Do you have any thoughts on methods to increase the percentage of the vehicle that can be recycled?

Holsten: At LKQ, we have a Zero Landfill Goal and are working hard to meet that target. On average, we are able to recycle more than 80 percent of total vehicle weight from the recycling of the metals, fluids and tires. The viability of recycling the plastic, glass, foam and fabric from vehicles remains a challenge. While the technology to recover post-shredder materials exists, the costs remain too high to support the collection, transport and processing of non-metal solid materials.

What more can be done to promote the sale of recycled oil and its use as an energy source?

Holsten: LKQ supports the use of recycled oil as an energy source. Every vehicle we purchase – and, last year, that meant more than 440,000 cars – is first processed through a fluid station where the fluids, including motor oil, are separately removed and, whenever possible, reused. For example, many of our salvage yards heat their plants with EPA-approved oil furnaces. Each of our recycling facilities sells the used oil it collects to recycling companies that process it for heating and other purposes.

What is being done to promote the sale of recovered fluids to recyclers and fluid manufacturers?

Holsten: The collection and recycling of fluids from vehicles is driven by regulatory constraints, the inherent value of the fluids for reuse, and current recycling and fluid management practices. LKQ collects fluids and utilizes cost effective, approved approaches for treatment, reuse, recycling and energy recovery. The best option for fluid treatment is often driven by market demand, geography, and availability of the services of recycling companies.

What type of federal and state legislation is needed to help the industry?

Holsten: The recycling of vehicles for parts, metals and fluids, makes sense. Why use scarce resources and subject the environment to additional emissions in order to create more of what we already have? Legislation works best when the objectives of the free market and public policy coincide and the economics of recycling are aligned with what is good for the environment.

We feel strongly that in order to maintain the safety of the motoring public and to protect the environment only qualified buyers should have access to purchase salvaged vehicles at the auctions. We also have advocated in support of state compliance with the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or NMVTIS. NMVTIS is an important industry program that tracks the transfer of vehicles and helps protect consumers from purchasing unsafe and fraudulently obtained vehicles.

What action can the industry take to increase the percentage of a vehicle that can be recycled?

Holsten: To increase the recyclable portion of vehicles, we need viable options for recycling plastic, glass and foam materials. One approach that would support improving the supply of recycled plastics would be to work with vehicle manufacturers on product designs that encourage the use of plastics that are compatible for easier recycling...

For the full article go to...

by Irwin Rapopor for American Recycler

Monday, December 14, 2009

Recovering Plastics from Retired Vehicles

What will happen to your car at the end of its useful life? Will it be buried or burned? Most of it will likely be recycled. In fact, vehicles are among the most recycled consumer products. Much of your vehicle’s steel and other metals will probably be recovered and turned into structural materials for new cars. Novel technologies developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory will soon enable industry to economically recover plastics from end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) for making new auto parts such as spare tire covers, steering column covers, and battery trays. Automotive parts (steering column covers) made with recycled plastics recovered from end-of-life-vehicles.

For years vehicle manufacturers have been designing and building new cars and trucks with the goal that structural materials in ELVs will be recycled, reducing the flow of material into the solid-waste stream. At the same time, automakers must ensure that the design materials selected for their ability to be recycled do not impair the safety, reliability, and performance of the completed vehicle.

In the United States between 12 and 15 million vehicles reach the end of their useful life each year. After dismantlers are through removing parts from ELVs for resale or remanufacturing, the vehicle hulks are shredded along with other metal-containing products, such as home appliances, electronic devices, and demolition debris. The shredders recover more than 95% of the metals in the shredded material and produce enough steel for 13 million new automobiles every year. This $10 billion, market- driven, North American vehicle recycling industry provides more than 100,000 jobs, benefiting the economy, reducing energy use for vehicle manufacture, and protecting the environment from contamination by metals. The remaining metals and nonmetallic materials, known as shredder residue, are shipped to landfills at a rate of 5 million tons a year in the United States alone.

Shredder residue contains polymers and residual metals that, if recovered, can be recycled profitably. As vehicles become smaller and lighter to improve fuel economy, the manufacturers will incorporate relatively higher percentages of lightweight, nonmetallic materials.

The U.S. government and industry have partnered to devise economical methods for recovering valuable contents from shredder residue. One new technology, developed at Argonne National Laboratory, can separate many types of polymers from the residue with a purity of 95% at a yield never before attained in the recycling industry.

Most retired vehicles begin their journey at a vehicle dismantling facility that recovers usable parts for resale. The remaining hulks go to a shredding facility for recovery of recyclable metals. Rather than being sent to a landfill, the shredder residue can now be fed to recovery facilities using the new Argonne technology, which combines mechanical and flotation separation processes to produce individual plastics that can be reused or recycled.

In the first step of the process, mechanical separation concentrates the plastics into a manageable fraction and conventional sink or float techniques separate the plastic concentrate based on differences in density. Individual plastics are then separated using froth flotation, a process for separating water- shedding (hydrophobic) materials from water-attracting (hydrophilic) materials.

The typical waste stream generated by shredders contains about 25% to 40% recoverable polymers, including polypropylene, polyethylene, rubber foam acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), and high-impact polystyrene (HIPS). Plastics such as ABS and HIPS are readily separable from other plastics but not from each other because they share the same density. Fortunately, Argonne’s froth flotation technology adapted from the minerals processing industry can separate HIPS from ABS. Altered water chemistry enables an air bubble to attach to hydrophobic HIPS, lowering its apparent density relative to ABS. As a result, HIPS floats away from ABS, which sinks in the solution.

Argonne developed a 2-ton-per-hour pilot plant to determine optimal operating conditions and process economics. The national lab then evaluated potential business opportunities for specific recovery applications. As a result, Argonne is now working with a shredder to develop a 20-ton-per-hour pilot plant that performs both mechanical separation and froth flotation.

Argonne also worked with the United States Council for Automotive Research’s (USCAR’s) Vehicle Recycling Partnership and the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division under a cooperative research and development agreement structured by DOE to advance ELV recycling. Argonne is continuing to lead the way on plastics recycling through an onsite pilot recycling facility demonstrating this and other techniques for recycling these materials.

Vehicle Technologies Program Automotive Lightweighting Materials, Joseph A. Carpenter Technology Development Manager Vehicle Technologies Program U.S. Department of Energy (202) 586-1022

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Green Fees - Auto Recyclers Add Environmental Fee to Invoices

Auto recyclers spend a lot of money to make sure they meet environmental regulations. Now, some of them are getting that money back.

A "green" surcharge has appeared on some Canadian auto recycler invoices. This nominal amount is listed as an environmental fee, and so far has been very successful.

"What's occurred is that a couple of our members have posted signs that describe the things they do to make sure they're protecting the environment," explained Steve Fletcher, executive director of the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association ( "It's become a profit centre and has grown from word of mouth."

Fletcher saw the signs at three member companies in just one week. When he asked the recyclers, they said they expected a bit of "push back." But as it turned out, the additional fee was not even questioned.

"I think it's because we're used to paying fees for services associated with the environment," said Fletcher. "When they change your oil, they charge you a disposal fee. Other companies charge a transportation fee. It's accepted enough that it's not a hard thing to do."

Fletcher acknowledged this is not an OARA program; however, it does tie into OARA's agenda. "It did start as a cost recovery program and it's a successful one," he acknowledged. "But this is also a trend that we like. It reinforces what recyclers are doing for the environment. When you're telling people that we drain fluids, remove mercury switches, and so on, you're letting them know that we're being responsible. That is the basis of our Green Parts marketing program. But of course, we're not doing it out of the goodness of our hearts. We don't want to pollute our property. It also happens to be the law."

Any recyclers can add the surcharge since it's not an official program, according to Fletcher. They just need to post a sign, and then code it into their inventory system. There may be some training involved so employees add it as a line item number.

John Logel, owner of Logel's Auto Parts in Kitchener, Ontario, put the surcharge into effect three years ago.

"We took a close look at what we were being charged by other shops and what it was costing in environmental compliance," he explained. "The body shops and garages have their environmental fees. We implement our fee, with no complaints."

Logel's Auto Parts ( charge $2.99 (CAD) for the environmental fee. The average invoice is about $190 (CAD). To date, the environmental fee has mostly been used for retail customers. It's more difficult to use with wholesale accounts, he acknowledged.

"Eventually insurance companies and shops may accept the charge," he said. "Everyone is responsible for the environment in some manner."

"I'm only guessing," said Fletcher, "but I think it would also work in the United States. If the recycler operates a clean facility and it looks like he's taking action, I don't think it would be questioned. As long as the surcharges are kept at a token amount, I think it would be great."

The surcharge is not designed to compensate auto recyclers for their environmental investment. But it does affect the bottom line and gives a positive perception.

by Felicia Lowenstein Niven, UpFront Magazine, Autumn 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Asian initiatives supporting auto recycling challenges

Under the slogan of "Think about global environmental issues through car recycling", the Second Asian Automotive Environmental Forum (AAEF) was held from November 13 to 14, 2009, at Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan. About 300 attendees from 12 countries joined the 2-day international event.

"When I heard the presentation from the Japanese side, I have found a light for the ways we can go in the Chinese market." "First of all, we need Asian-wide standards and regulations for car recycling." Such positive comments were heard from speakers of the Chinese and Korean side during the forum.

The forum was lead by Yu Jeongsoo, Associate Professor, Tohoku University Graduate School of International Cultural Studies and joined by representatives of carmakers and government bodies responsible for the environment, as well as universities and automobile recyclers in Asian countries. In addition, representatives came from the United States, Germany, Malaysia and Vietnam, suggesting growing attention to environmental issues associated with car recycling.

Guests from Japanese local governments included Mr. Shuichi Miura, Vice Governor, Miyagi Prefecture and Mr. Shuji Kasahara, Vice Mayor, Sendai City Government.

After the address made by Kiyoyuki Sakai, Representative Director, Japan ELV Recyclers Association, Gao Kai-sheng,
Secretary General, Shanghai Society of Automotive Engineers and Lee Sanguk, Chairman, Korea Automotive Recyclers Association delivered messages.

In the presentation session, Shishido Kazuya, Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, and Yoshiteru Sakaguchi,
Ministry of the Environment, introduced the results and current status of automobile recycling in Japan.

Professor Chen Ming, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and Koo Yonghoe, Korea Automotive Recyclers Association made
their presentations. Gwee Bok Wee, Chairman, Malaysia Automotive Recyclers Association, pointed out that the Malaysian
government placed a ban on the import of used auto parts and so car users felt inconvenienced. Vietnamese speaker Dang Thi Phuong Thao also said that consumers increasingly buy used luxury cars such as American-made vehicles.

On the other hand, Jeff Schroder, Automotive Recyclers Association of the U.S., introduced the result of the sales of
used airbags. Backed up by the insurance companies, car owners can more easily find applicable used airbags for their cars by searching the web-based database.

As for the effect of CO2reduction by the use of recycled parts, Nobuo Shimizu, Japan Automotive Parts Recyclers Association, outlined the latest development of the industry-wide campaign for such efforts.

In the panel discussion, Hideharu Sakota, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, joined the session as a speaker.
In the second day of the forum, about 100 people participated in factory tours to local recyclers. They visited the facilities of
Imai Cars Co. in Iwanuma City, and Yoshimura Corp. in Kurihara City.

At the round-up session, the organizer announced that the Third Asian Automotive Environmental Forum will be held in
Shanghai, China during October 14 and 15 next year. "In China, about 6 to 7 million end-of-life-vehicles will be recycled a year from 2017," said Professor Chen Ming. The proper recycling processes and systems are must measures for that country, as well as other Asian countries. Vol. 22