Eastman completes closed-loop automotive mixed plastic waste recycling project
Eastman has successfully completed the closed-loop recycling project for automotive mixed plastic waste. Through a collaborative effort, Eastman, the United States Automotive Materials Partnership LLC (USAMP), automotive recycler PADNOS, and Yanfeng, have demonstrated their plastic recycling from the by-product of shredding end-of-life vehicles.
When automobiles are at the end of their life, metals, tires, and glass account for 80 to 90 percent of the materials that can be recycled through traditional mechanical recycling streams. The other 10 to 20 percent, referred to as automotive shredder residue (ASR), consists of mixed plastic and other nonrecycled materials that currently end up in landfills or are recovered through waste-to-energy technologies. Under this initiative, PADNOS supplied a plastic-rich fraction of ASR as a sustainable feedstock to Eastman's carbon renewal technology (CRT). Eastman successfully demonstrated the addition and conversion of that ASR feedstock into a synthesis gas (syngas) which is subsequently used downstream in the production of its polyester and cellulosic thermoplastics. Resins from this production process were further formulated and then supplied to Yanfeng. The parts moulded by Yanfeng for the demonstration were successfully tested to meet a variety of OEM – Ford, GM, and Stellantis – requirements, thereby demonstrating proof of concept for a circular solution.
The study proved the feasibility of Eastman's carbon renewal technology (CRT), one of Eastman's two molecular recycling technologies, which breaks down the plastic-rich ASR into molecular building blocks. By recycling these complex plastics in CRT, Eastman can replace fossil-based feedstock and create polymers without compromising performance for use in new automotive applications.
In addition to diverting waste from landfills, USAMP, a subsidiary of the United States Council for Automotive Research LLC (USCAR) also sees the potential for energy savings and reduced overall greenhouse gas emissions.
Deloitte Consulting, LLP estimates more than 10 billion pounds of ASR is sent to landfills globally annually.
"We are encouraged by the initial results of this study," says Warwick Stirling, USCAR executive director. "Innovative processes that enable ASR to be used in automotive parts can help bring us closer to more fully recycling end-of-life vehicles and enabling the possibility of a truly circular economy."
"This is a prime example of how collaboration across the value chain is essential to making material circularity mainstream," says Steve Crawford, Eastman's executive vice president, manufacturing and chief sustainability officer. "Modern cars are made with approximately 50 percent plastics by volume, on average; and this number is only expected to increase as automotive manufacturers continue to seek lighter electric vehicles. We're demonstrating a future where automotive hard-to-recycle plastics and fibres are diverted from landfills and recycled to produce new automotive parts."