March 2, 1998
Recycled plastics enter virgin territory
Materials move from consumer into
Gary Chamberlain, Senior Editor
of recycled plastics is no longer reserved for park
benches and tables, boat docks, toys, trash cans, storage
sheds, bottles, or siding. In fact, recent products
made from recycled plastics have garnered major industry
awards. Here's a look at some of these products at work,
what kind of properties they achieve, and, most important,
how they may become a part of your next design project--while
winning over customers who can now proclaim they are
producing "environmentally correct" products.
Let's begin with an award winner. DuPont Automotive
partnered with Ford Motor Co. to recycle major quantities
of used carpeting, including that from Ford's world
headquarters and engineering buildings, into Ford and
Lincoln-Mercury engine air cleaner housings for nearly
three million vehicles a year. To meet supply requirements,
DuPont through its "Partnership for Carpet Reclamation"
collects more than 27 million sq ft of commercial carpeting
annually--enough to cover all floors of the World Trade
Center in New York and the entire U.S. Capitol Building
complex in Washington.
For these efforts, the Society of Plastics Engineers
Automotive Div. made Ford its Grand Award winner last
year. Visteon (formerly Ford Automotive Parts Operations)
qualified the recycle content materials and produced
the air cleaners at its Sandusky, OH, plant.
Beyond research and development stage, BASF?s
glycolysis technology converts recycled polyurethanes
The carpet-recycling partnership operates 49 collection
sites in North America. Using a proprietary process,
DuPont reclaims the nylon and other materials from the
carpeting at its plant in Chattanooga, TN.
"This large recycle project with DuPont exemplifies
Ford's continued leadership in creating demand for recycled
materials for auto industry applications that meet or
exceed performance specifications and make economic
sense," says Andy Acho, Ford's director of environmental
outreach and strategy.
"The project required dedicated teamwork from
both Ford and DuPont engineers to really make it work,"
adds Erik Fyrwald, director of engineering materials
at DuPont Automotive. "We're excited about the
new technology and its environmental implications."
The air cleaner application of DuPont Minlonr mineral-reinforced
nylon 66, with 25% post-consumer polymer recycle content,
marks the first major commercial order from DuPont's
carpet recycle plant. The mechanical recycling technology
reclaims a highly pure feed stream of "face"
fibers from nylon carpet formerly destined for landfills.
The fibers are melt-recycled and compounded with virgin
nylon engineering resin to create a nylon that meets
Ford's specifications. Other carpet materials, primarily
polypropylene backing and calcium carbonate (CaO3)
filler, also are being recycled into other markets.
Bottle bonanza. Ford also joined forces
with Carlisle Engineered Products, Lapeer, MI, to include
recycled plastic in 1997 Taurus, Sable, and Continental
vehicles sold in North America. The product: heating,
ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) duct vent doors.
For the project, Carlisle engineers selected Impetr
recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) from Ticona
(formerly Hoechst Technical Polymers), Summit, NJ. Reclaimed
from beverage bottles, the post-consumer recycled PET
was molded to very tight tolerances to produce the flat
part needed for proper sealing of the door. It also
withstood high heat environmental tests without warping,
a key requirement for air control in a car's heater
cycle. Not only did the recycled resin support a major
environmental initiative, but it matched the properties
and processing times of virgin material, while remaining
The Impet 340R recycled 45% glass-filled thermoplastic
polyester has a deflection temperature under load at
264 psi of 445F (229C). This enabled the doors to hold
their critical flatness and dimensions through heat,
humidity, and vibration testing. Moreover, the recycle-content
polyester tolerated molding pressure and temperature
variations as well as virgin PET, minimizing rejects,
and without requiring any tooling modifications.
Ticona's Encore group, formed in 1990, promotes the
increased use of recycle-content products. In addition
to Impet, Encorer products include polyphenylene sulfide
(PPS), acetal, liquid-crystal polymer, and nylon 6/6.
In 1996, Ticona commissioned a recycling plant for acetal
at Kelsterbach, Germany. It operates on an industrial
scale, with an annual capacity of 3,000 metric tons.
Back to basics. In yet another automotive
application, BASF Corp., (Mount Olive, NJ) and Philip
Services Corp. (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) have announced
that major automotive manufacturers, including Tier
One automotive component suppliers, have agreed to supply
polyurethane process waste for recovery. The material
will be processed at a newly opened polyurethane recycling
plant operated by Philip Services in Detroit.
The BASF process, called glycolysis, breaks down a
polyurethane to its most basic elements, resulting in
a recovered polyol that can be used like a virgin polyol.
Many cycles of reuse are "a chemical possibility,"
according to Dick Dauksys, director, polymers resource
management for BASF.
In the process, polyurethane waste (including polyurethane
parts coated with polyurethane paint) is ground or chopped,
then reacted at an elevated temperature with various
chemicals. After a few added process steps, the recovered
Process waste from automotive parts manufacturers will
provide the initial feed stock of polyurethane for recycling.
By mid-1998, BASF and Philips Services expect to handle
post-consumer auto waste streams. Philip Services will
sell the plant's polyol product exclusively to BASF
for formulation into polyurethane systems based on user
requirements. Initial grades include Pluracolr RP 1464
(unfilled) and RP 1473 (filled).
In addition, several automotive companies have under
review the recovered polyol to produce polyurethane
parts for new automotive applications. Among the component
possibilities: fascias, spoilers, wheel covers, and
"This recycling venture will allow us to reduce
our waste stream by more than 50%, which exceeds government
regulatory waste reduction requirements," adds
Robert McLane, vice president of manufacturing, Peregrine
Inc., (Oshawa, Ontario, Canada), a company formed from
four automotive parts plants previously owned by General
Motors. "Also, we will look for opportunities to
return recycled materials back into our products to
give us a competitive advantage, while serving the needs
of the community, industry, and the environment."
No newcomer to the recycling endeavor is AlliedSignal
Plastics, (Morristown, NJ). Since 1982, the company
has marketed Petrar resin, a recycled PET polymer reinforced
with glass fibers and other selected minerals. The material,
which ranges from 15-55% reinforcement, contains 100%
post-consumer PET. The recycling effort removes more
than 75 million soda bottles from the waste stream annually.
Petra recycled PET is claimed to have had automotive
industry approval longer than any other recycled grade.
Offering the twin benefits of good paintability and
dimensional stability, some 12 million lbs of the material
a year finds its way into grill-opening and headlamp
reinforcements, roof racks, fans, engine covers, speaker
brackets, and paintable door-handle escutcheons. Petra
replaced metal for the first time in speaker brackets
in the popular four- and two-door Ford Explorers, resulting
in a weight savings of 30% and part costs reduced as
much as 47% depending on the bracket.
AlliedSignal also produces Nypelr nylon resins made
from internally generated recycled nylon 6 feedstocks.
Street cleaner tackles tight spaces
districts, sidewalks, shopping malls, and narrow alleys
can be a pain when it comes to tidying up litter and
other debris. A new, compact street cleaner from France
makes this task easier and much more efficient.
Four-wheel-drive sweeper permits a 10.5-ft
The four-wheel-drive Azura, built by MATHIEU.YNO, can
maneuver areas as narrow as 4 ft. Its sweeping range
adjusts from the cab up to 6.6 ft, or as wide as 9.8
ft with an optional third brush.
The sweeper has a 10.5-ft turning radius, almost 2
ft less than its length. It measures only 4 ft in width
and 6.5 ft in height. When empty, the sweeper weighs
5,000 lbs, fully loaded 9,900 lbs.
A 95-hp, 2.8l turbo-charged and noise-proofed diesel
powers the unit. Other features include a 118-gal water
tank, high-pressure pump and sprayer, and a suction