Chrysler 'CAREs', Turns Garbage into Car Parts

March 22, 2002
Driving a "junker" takes on a whole new meaning with the announcement of a new, innovative recycling technology that turns garbage into a valuable product while potentially saving the automobile industry $320 million per year.

Driving a "junker" takes on a whole new meaning with the announcement of a new, innovative recycling technology utilized by the Chrysler group. The technology, shown for the first time in Chrysler Group's CARE Car II, turns garbage into a valuable product while potentially saving the automobile industry $320 million per year.

The CARE Car II is the second phase of the Chrysler group's CARE (Concepts for Advanced Recycling and Environmental) Car demonstration program. The goals of the program are to increase the recyclability and recovery of automobiles to about 95 percent by weight and increase the use of recycled materials in production vehicles.

"This project demonstrates that the industry can 'care' for the environment while protecting the bottom line," says Bernard Robertson, senior vice president of Engineering Technologies and Regulatory Affairs. "Automobiles are already one of the most recycled products on the planet, but this technology presents the first real world solution to recycle the remaining 25 percent of a vehicle that still goes to a landfill."

Chrysler Group worked with 26 production suppliers and Salt Lake City based Recovery Plastics International (RPI), to retrofit two Jeep Grand Cherokees with 54 recycled plastic parts. Chrysler Group was the first automaker to use RPI's proprietary plastic flotation technology to separate the myriad of plastic types found in automotive shredder residue - which currently goes to landfill - and use the recovered plastic to manufacture new vehicle parts.

The recycled parts meet the same material specifications required for production vehicles and were manufactured by the Chrysler Group's production supply partners. The suppliers used current production molds and processes to produce the parts - at a lower cost than using virgin plastic. Chrysler Group estimates that the recycled plastic can save $10 - $20 per vehicle.

"It's critical to enlist our supplier partners in the technology development process so we identify potential issues early and bring new technologies to market faster," Robertson says. "Our suppliers are the key factor in moving innovative technology from the lab into high volume production."

In addition to working with traditional supplier partners and RPI, the Chrysler Group enlisted the support of two large metal recycling companies, the David J. Joseph Co., based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Hugo Neu Corp. of New York. By working with metal recyclers and supply partners, the CARE Car project demonstrated that a market does exist for the recovered plastic and that the recycled plastic can be used to create quality parts at a lower cost while reducing waste to landfills.

The shredder residue used to make the recycled plastic came from a variety of sources - everything from automobiles, refrigerators and dishwashers to discarded Frisbees. Waste from Chrysler Group manufacturing facilities also was used to create parts on the vehicles. Polyester gloves, cloth wipes and powder paint residue were recycled and used in the production of components in the CARE cars.

About 95 percent of all automobiles are recycled. However, recycling is generally limited to the 75 percent by weight of the vehicle that is metallic. The remaining 25 percent is currently disposed in landfills.

edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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