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Recycling Plastic Car Bumpers Could Prevent Millions of Pounds of Waste

Image: SOMPOP/Adobe car accident
Ultra-Poly creates near-virgin quality material for numerous end products recycling plastic auto bumpers.

The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) and plastics recycler Ultra-Poly Corp. have successfully tested a process to collect and recycle car bumper covers made of plastic. According to a case study published on March 1, the process could divert approximately one million pounds of plastic from landfills annually. The recycled polyolefins (TPO) display 85 to 90% of the flexibility and elasticity found in virgin material, making them ideal for numerous end-product uses, said PLASTICS.

Ultra-Poly’s technology does not rely on third-party collectors and processors to gather and pre-process the car bumper covers. Used covers are collected directly from body shops, where the bumpers are removed from automobiles and their reusable connected components salvaged.

“This project demonstrates that true post-consumer material does not have to be collected only at the curbside and pre-processed by materials recovery facilities,” said Kevin Cronin, Vice President of Sustainability and R&D at Ultra-Poly. “It can also be sourced directly at the point of generation, reducing the carbon footprint and yielding more-consistent recycled products.”

Point-of-generation collection also ensures a steady stream of source material — a single body shop can yield up to 30 scrapped bumper covers per month. The body shop saves money on dumpster space and is relieved of the concern that damaged covers may be “re-manufactured” and sold as replacement parts.

“This case study is a win all around for body shops, recyclers, manufacturers, and the environment,” said Tony Radoszewski, CEO of PLASTICS. “We’re proud to have innovative member companies like Ultra-Poly out there, seeking new ways to eliminate plastic waste, providing new sources of valuable materials, and expanding capabilities, which means more jobs in the recycling sector.”

The Ultra-Poly case study is part of PLASTICS’ larger New End Market Opportunities (NEMO) program that focuses expertise from throughout the plastics supply chain on developing new methods for the recovery, recycling, and reuse of plastic products. “NEMO is all about keeping plastics out of the landfill or environment and in the marketplace, where they can support the livelihoods of more than a million people who work in our industry,” added Patrick Krieger, PLASTICS’ Director of Sustainability & Materials.

Ultra-Poly Corp., based in Pennsylvania, has five locations offering a range of custom compounded polypropylene and polyethylene resins from recycled plastics. The company also provides toll reprocessing services for plant-generated scrap in several different industries. The recycled plastic resin is then used in applications such as plastic bags, injection molded parts, extruded components, and large structural parts. With an annual production capacity of over 250 million pounds across five plants, Ultra-Poly is currently one of the largest plastic recyclers in North America.

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