Audi working on recycling automotive plastic waste, producing new parts from it
Audi, in partnership with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, has successfully completed the pilot project of using chemical recycling method to recycle mixed automotive plastic waste. Many components in cars such as fuel tanks, airbag covers and radiator grilles are composed of plastic.
Audi says that the plastic waste can be processed into pyrolysis oil and could replace petroleum as a raw material for the production of high-quality plastic components to be used in future Audi models. Further, the process of recycling automotive plastic waste can be both technically feasible and environmentally and financially benefitting.
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Plastic waste recycling can help the carmaker save its fossil resources for longer and also scale back the procurement of additional fossil resources accordingly. The company has already planned a follow-up project with its partner to develop an industrial chemical recycling process.
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Car components made of plastic need to meet stringent safety, heat resistance, and quality requirements, and thus are subject to high levels of stress. To date, they can only be manufactured from materials of virgin quality, which mechanically recycled plastics usually do not achieve. Thus, test carried out by Audi aimed to determine the extent to which mixed automotive plastic fractions can be fed back into a resource-friendly cycle via chemical recycling.
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The pilot test concluded that new components made from pyrolysis oil have the same high quality as virgin materials. Thus, plastics made from pyrolysis oil can be reused in automotive manufacturing to produce plastic components that are subject to high levels of stress.
The new chemical recycling process gives Audi an opportunity to successively increase the amount of recycled plastic in its models. "(We) want to use intelligent methods to proactively shape the market for secondary raw materials," says Philipp Eder, project manager for Chemical Recycling in the supply chain at Audi.
Further, Audi's sustainable manufacturing mission is highlighted by its cross-site environmental program 'Mission:Zero', focusing on resource conservation, waste avoidance, and closed recycling loops in production, among other issues.