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Recycling Vehicle Components

The European Union’s End-of-Life Vehicle Directive obliges automobile manufacturers to demonstrate the recyclability of all vehicle components. This makes the vehicle’s recyclability an important product property that must be taken into account as early as the development of the individual parts and components.

In order to work together with customers on improving product recyclability, the relevant information concerning each product is compiled, evaluated, and made available to the customer. In the Automotive Group, for example, this is achieved by means of a recycling passport, which includes component drawings, material data, and dismantling steps for the products. This information processing has proven to be extremely practicable and has made a considerable contribution to improving the recyclability of our products.

Recycling Vehicle Components

Vehicle components that can no longer be used result from repair and maintenance in workshops and the stripping down of end-of-life vehicles. The disposal of workshop waste includes the recycling of scrap metal such as brake disks and pads.

In the recycling process for end-of-life vehicles, airbags and high-polluting components are removed. In the next step, recyclable parts are extracted. The wheels are taken apart, and rims and tires are disposed of separately.

The body remains are shredded. The resulting particle mixtures ensure that more than 85% of the vehicle weight is recycled, in compliance with the EU’s End-of-Life Directive, which will require even greater improvements in the future. There are similar regulations in Korea and Japan, and corresponding laws are in the pipeline in China, Russia, and Turkey.

Every year, around 17 million tonnes of scrap tires arise worldwide, more than three million tonnes of which in Europe, and approximately 580,000 tonnes in Germany alone, where tire sales are the highest in the European market. The cement industry makes a significant contribution to recycling them by using the scrap tires in the cement-making process due to their high energy content. The steel and silica contained in the tires are also used as secondary raw materials.

Another recycling method is the utilization of material from shredded tires. The steel and textile components are usually removed and recycled separately during the shredding process. The pure rubber granulate can then be used in the manufacture of panels for protecting buildings (insulation, sealing). As fine-particle granulate, it is also used as an elastic filler material on sports grounds with artificial turf. Even finer material such as rubber dust can be used in road construction, for instance in a noise-absorbing asphalt layer.

The retreading of tires is particularly common in the case of truck tires. After close inspection, suitable tires are given a new tread. In some fields of application, high-quality retreads present a cost-effective alternative to new tires, extending the life of the tire while also conserving resources.

Source: Japan Automobile Tire Manufacturers Association, Rubber Manufacturers Association, European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers Association.

Continental and other tire manufacturers have stabilized the recycling rate for used tires in Europe (EU27) at the high level of 96% in 2012. There have been similar achievements in Japan and the U.S.A. Germany reached a recycling rate of almost 100% as early as 2006.

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