Ultra-Poly, one of America's largest plastics recyclers, has announced a first-of-its-kind bumper recycling program, that involves the collection and reprocessing of damaged automotive bumpers into a new raw material for use in an auto component. Ultra-Poly collaborated with Tier 1 Autoneum North America to develop a product that uses the recycled bumper material as a rigid backing substrate for a fibrous layer, creating a composite used in vibration and noise attenuation in a chassis component. The material is listed in the International Material Data System (IMDS).
As a member of the Plastics Industry Association, the company was one of several that worked on the End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV) project, which sought to determine if the fascia material could be recovered for use in new fascia. Ultimately, this was deemed not viable, primarily because of surface finish issues. However, Ultra-Poly saw potential for the material in other polypropylene compounds as well as in non-appearance applications in the automotive and other industrial markets.
Leveraging a strong history in developing novel reverse logistics strategies, Ultra-Poly collects the used bumper covers directly from auto body shops, where they have been removed from vehicles and stripped of any usable connected components. The program offers a strong value to the shops, including;
- Cost avoidance – the large, bulky items are removed from their waste roll-offs, reducing the pull frequency.
- Industry integrity – the used fascia are completely destroyed in the process and cannot be repaired and make their way back into the supply stream, which presents significant quality issues.
The resulting material offers strong value to converters and brand owners as well, including a consistent high-quality material with a balance of stiffness and toughness, and certified 100% post-consumer content.
“This is a groundbreaking program that will help advance the automotive industry closer to achieving the standards of a circular economy,” said Kevin Cronin, vice president of sustainability and R&D at Ultra-Poly. “Sustainability is in the DNA of Ultra-Poly. Our commitment and expertise in improving the sustainability of the plastics industry is evident throughout our business model and we look forward to all that we can achieve with this innovative program.”
Autoneum North America Inc. Vice President of Product Development and Engineering, Dan Moler, added: “With the increasing challenge of OEMs to require more and more recycled content, this product delivers on that challenge, enabling us to become more sustainable as a company by reducing our carbon footprint and engineering a product from the ground up with end-of-life recycling in mind to ultimately reach the end goal of a circular economy. Everyone benefits — body shops, recyclers, automotive part manufacturers, OEMs and, most importantly, the environment.”
The recycled material is now available to be sampled and used by any automotive manufacturer or supplier for other potential programs.