Plastics in an End of Life Vehicle
The proportion of plastics used in car manufacturing has increased. An average new car in 1984 contained 8.5% by weight of plastics; a similar car today contains around 11%. Plastics benefit from qualities, such as impact and corrosion resistance, and low weight and cost. Owing to weight-savings, from the use of plastics, a car weighing 1.1 tonnes with plastics will consume approximately 1000 litres less fuel during its life than a car weighing 1.3 tonnes without plastic.
The proportion of plastics from ELVs being recycled is low. One reason for this is the wide variety of polymer types used. Identification, by marking components at production or by improved sorting technologies, will be vital if the practice of recovering plastic parts is to become viable. One of the few plastic parts currently being recovered from ELVs is battery cases, accounting for 5,000 of the 14,000 tonnes of automotive plastics recycling in 1998. The most common plastics types are polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), polyurethane (PU) and PVC. PP accounts for approximately 41% of all car plastics (common in bumpers, wheel arch liners and dashboards), and as with PE and PU, most common in seat foam, viable markets exist.