DaimlerChrysler Aims To Boost Auto Recyclability

By Glenn Hasek In a five-month project launched this month, DaimlerChrysler Corp. is testing plastics technology that could help make its vehicles 95% recoverable within the next few years. Recycling currently is limited to the 75% of the vehicle that is metallic. The remaining 25%, much of which is plastic, has been difficult to recycle cost-effectively. The project represents the second phase of DaimlerChrysler's Concepts for Advanced Recycling and Environmental (CARE) Car Program. The program's dual goals include increasing the recyclability and recovery of automobiles and the use of recycled materials in new vehicles. If successful, the test could open the door to a profitable new market for automobile recyclers in recycled plastics, polyurethane foams, and copper. In April 1999 DaimlerChrysler unveiled two new Dodge Stratus sedans with more than 500 parts modified to increase recyclability. The test vehicles withstood 100,000 miles of driving with no parts failures. "By recycling the plastics from old cars and trucks, which today are simply dumped in landfills, we believe we can reduce the cost of producing new vehicles by millions of dollars a year," says Bernard I. Robertson, senior vice president, engineering technologies.

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