Friday, 12 December 2014

Recycled plastic inferior quality? NONSENSE

There is a long held view that vehicle components, in particular those made from recycled plastics, are inferior in quality to those made from premium grade ‘virgin’ plastics. This is an all too common misconception.
Luxus, the UK based plastic recycler, has produced competitively priced high-performance thermoplastic parts based on a recycled plastic for the auto industry for over a decade now.
The performance of recycled grades can in fact be enhanced so that superior components can be manufactured at a competitive cost. So it’s time that designers feel confident that there is no compromise in performance when specifying recycled plastics.
Historically, the automotive industry’s demand for plastic components made from recycled materials has been for non-visual (hidden) surfaces such as ‘under the bonnet’ or ‘behind the dashboard parts’. For higher profile visual (e.g. interior) parts however, it’s not been quite as common as you may think: Luxus is still the only company in Europe that’s able to meet the criteria for class A’ interior surfaces.
It’s never been possible to offer an inferior product to the automotive industry just because it’s ‘green’. Quite rightly, the expectation is that the product is ‘fit for purpose’, whether it made from recycled material or not. That’s why education by consultation at the very earliest stages of product design & development is crucial.; the Luxus technical team engages directly with designers and specifiers to explain the clear environmental and economic benefits of using recycled plastics right at the beginning of the product development process.  
Although price remains a major concern, it is gradually becoming more common to see many ‘prime’ material applications moving to recycled plastics, as they seek both sustainability and cost benefits without compromising quality. But development of sustainable recycled plastic products also has to take into account the security of supply in the current and future volumes of basic recycled raw materials.  
At the same time, demands for higher performance vehicle applications means higher specification recycled grades, more stringent testing and higher values for recycled products.
MVDA comment.  It’s been at least 20 years now that vehicle manufacturers have been looking at recycled plastic grades, and the apparent continued reluctance to specify these materials is very disappointing.  High quality end uses are essential in driving the value chain. Let’s hope the emerging post-shredder technologies can make a significant contribution.  If any of the parties involved in the automotive recycled plastics chain want to let us know how much recycled plastic they use, and in which applications, we’d be happy to update members.
Motor Vehicle Dismantlers Association of Great Britain Office 5, Top Floor,
Charrington House, 17A Market St, Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS13 6JX, UK.
Tel: (01543) 254 254
Fax: (01543) 254 274 

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