Covestro collaborates with automotive partners on car-to-car plastic recycling

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With increasing global environmental awareness and stricter regulatory requirements, the automotive industry is realizing the necessity of plastic recycling for sustainable development. In response, materials manufacturer Covestro, along with partners from the automotive value chain, is spearheading the concept of car-to-car closed-loop plastics recycling, which is emerging as a promising solution to tackle the challenges of plastic waste management in the sector.

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Under a joint pilot program initiated by German federal enterprise GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), Covestro and partners will collaborate to establish closed-loop pathways for high-value plastics from end-of-life vehicles (ELVs). The goal is to create an efficient and sustainable automotive plastic recycling system, advancing the more sustainable “transformation of the industry”. The pilot program was announced at Covestro’s booth during the CHINAPLAS 2024 international trade fair in Shanghai. Notable partners include leading automotive brand owners such as NIO of China and Volkswagen, Chinese recycling company GEM, and third-party certification bodies like TÜV Rheinland.

“We are proud to partner with like-minded value chain allies to pioneer closed-loop plastic recycling in the automotive sector,” said Lily Wang, Global Head of the Engineering Plastics Business Entity at Covestro. “By leveraging our collective strengths and resources, we are confident in our ability to build a closed-loop for automotive plastics recycling, thereby reducing waste and carbon emissions at the source while improving resource use efficiency. Through this joint program, we aim to expedite the automotive industry’s transition toward a more climate-neutral and sustainable future.”

“The automotive industry stands as one of the most resource-intensive sectors globally, yet the potential of high-value plastics from ELVs remain largely untapped,” said Martin Hofmann, Cluster Head in charge of Climate, Energy, Environment and Biodiversity at GIZ. “GIZ is steering an innovative endeavor to explore closed-loop pathways for high-value plastics from ELVs. I firmly believe that GIZ and our partners can forge a path towards the transition to a sustainable, circular economy.”

As part of the pilot program, a team of professionals will explore methods to recycle and process waste polycarbonate components, such as end-of-life car headlights, into post-consumer recycled (PCR) polycarbonates. The recycled materials will then be reused for various interior and exterior vehicle applications, saving resources and reducing carbon emissions.

This could offer urgently needed long-term solutions for the automotive manufacturing industry, which seeks high-quality PCR materials that are compliant and high-performance amid increasingly stringent regulations. For example, in 2023, the European Commission proposed a new regulation to enhance the circularity of the automotive sector, mandating that 25 percent of the plastics used in a new vehicle must come from recycling, of which 25 percent must be recycled from end-of-life vehicles.

Covestro will also be showcasing more solutions for the automotive industry at its booth at the CHINAPLAS 2024, such as an intelligent front grill and mono-material polycarbonate headlamp that are designed for a connected and circular future.

For a closer look at Covestro’s solutions at the CHINAPLAS 2024, visit the company at booth 7.2-C38, at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) from April 23 to 26, 2024.