Bumpers, according to Mazda, comprise a significant portion of the plastic that is used in vehicles, so the Japanese automaker set out to develop a recycling technology to make use of this often-discarded component. Over the last few years, Mazda has been developing a recycling process for damaged bumpers that will extend that to end-of-life vehicles.
As many of these vehicles are 10-plus years old, the composition of the bumpers' polypropylene plastics and adhesives vary dramatically. Therefore, unusable materials must be removed. So, starting in the 1990s, Mazda began designing bumpers that would be easily recyclable. As a result of Mazda's initiatives, the cost of recycling worn bumpers is less than purchasing virgin plastic.
HIROSHIMA, Japan-Mazda Motor Corporation has become the world's first* automaker to successfully recycle scrapped bumpers from end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) into raw material for new vehicle bumpers. The new technology was inaugurated on August 21, 2011 and is initially being used to make rear bumpers for the Mazda Biante minivan.
Conventionally, bumpers from ELVs are processed into automobile shredder residue (ASR) and incinerated to recover heat energy (thermal recycling). By enabling the ELV bumpers to be recycled into material for new vehicle bumpers, the new technology improves the material recycling ratio (MRR) of Mazda vehicles and contributes to more effective use of resources.
Bumpers comprise a large proportion of the plastic used in vehicles and Mazda is proactively developing bumper recycling technologies as an effective way to increase vehicle MRR. Mazda became an industry leader in bumper recycling when it began processing damaged bumpers collected from in-use vehicles through its dealer network in Japan. Mazda then aimed to further develop this damaged bumper recycling technology and adapt it for recycling ELV bumpers.
Many ELVs are over 10 years old, so the composition of the bumpers' polypropylene plastic and the adhesive properties of the paint vary considerably. Before recycling, unwanted materials such as metal attachments must also be removed. As a result, processing ELV bumpers into new material has previously been technically and economically difficult.
To overcome this, in the 1990s Mazda began designing bumpers to be easily recyclable, and now the number of ELV bumpers that can be efficiently dismantled is increasing. Mazda has also developed and implemented efficient ELV bumper collection and processing methods in collaboration with Yamako Corporation and Takase Gosei Kagaku Corporation, companies based in Hiroshima prefecture, western Japan. As a result of these initiatives, the cost of recycling is less than the cost of purchasing new plastic.
Initially, Mazda is collecting bumpers from end-of-life Mazda vehicles in the Hiroshima area, and the recycled plastic will comprise approximately 10 percent of each new bumper produced.
Currently, approximately 20 percent by weight of ELVs (parts made of plastics, rubber and other materials) is incinerated as ASR. Bumpers comprise a large proportion of the plastic so collecting and recycling ELV bumpers is expected to make a significant contribution to reducing ASR and optimizing efficient use of resources.
Going forward, Mazda will continue to develop advanced recycling technologies, including bumper-to-bumper recycling, as it strives toward a sustainable future.