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99% vehicle recycling is feasible

MBA Polymers
MBA's plant is designed to handle sheredder residue and could push automotive recycling rates as high as 99%.
We are all concerned about achieving the 85% recovery target, let alone the 95% that comes into force in 2015. MBA Polymers who have developed advanced processes for automotive shredder residue (ASR) believe that in the future, 99% of ELVs could be recovered.

Talking at last year’s CARS show, MBA’s Nigel Bower demonstrated how their plant could recover plastics from ASR. This extremely complex feedstock stock is the non-metallic element from the process of shredding end of life vehicles. Traditionally, shredder operations recovered 70% in steel, 5% in non ferrous and another 5% in other recyclable materials and recovery. If we add on the 5% that is removed prior to the process, we are left with 20% for landfill. It is this 20% that has been the challenge for MBA Polymers.

To achieve the 99% mentioned, their process extracts a further 5% of plastics from the ASR plus 5% in recycled aggregates. That’s impressive but the key to the system’s success is an advanced gassification power plant which, from the remaining 15% will generate electricity and separate further quantities of ferrous and non ferrous metal. The end effect is that only 1% ends up at landfill.

MBA Polymers is a joint venture between MBA and EMR and the plant has been operational since 2011, and can process 60 - 80,000 tonnes per annum of ASR currently. By using their system on a national scale, MBA believe that there could be a reduction of 500,000 MT sent to landfill with 25,000 MT of previously un-recoverable metal recycled and 80,000 MT diverted for plastic recovery. Another impressive point is that the gasification process generates more energy than the recovery process consumes.

There’s a bigger issue here too. This would create an economic and sustainable alternative to petro-chemically produced plastics. The system will produce high quality post-consumer ABS, HIPS, PP’s and PE. Producing the plastics in this way is far more environmentally beneficial. For every tonne of plastics produced, 2-3 tons less of CO2 emissions is created compared to the production of plastics from petrochemicals.

Last month, MBA called on the government to suspend VAT on recycled plastics to help stimulate consumer demand and encourage investment in the UK’s plastics recycling industry. The call was made at a presentation at Portcullis House, Westminster at an event entitled ‘The future of recycling –The challenge for plastics’. Around 100 politicians, environmental groups and major plastics-users attended the presentation.

MBA Polymers Chief Executive, Nigel Hunton, commented, “Plastics recycling is a big opportunity for UK plc. We currently lie behind leading European countries in terms of the recycling rates of post-consumer plastic waste and in 2011 the UK performance was just over 20%. Sweden, Norway, German and France were all above us.

The future for ELV recycling looks bright when you see what’s being achieved but let’s not lose sight of the fact that re-use will always be the most environmentally friendly option so building your parts business has got to take priority!

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