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 DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Chrysler (NYSE: C), Ford (NYSE: F) and General Motors (NYSE: GM) are working together to further improve the recyclability of their products.
 About 75 percent of every dismantled Big Three vehicle is recycled, according to Irv Poston, chairman of the Big Three's Vehicle Recycling Partnership.
 "With more than 10 million vehicles discarded every year, you can see the tremendous task performed by the domestic vehicle recycling industry," said Poston, who also is manager of polymer composites at General Motors.
 Over the past 30 years, the development of automotive shredding equipment has made it economical to recover automotive steel and other metals, Poston noted.
 Consumer programs to recycle paper products and aluminum cans may get more attention, but only 30 percent of the nation's paper products and 61 percent of its aluminum cans are returned for recycling. By comparison, 94 percent of the nation's cars and trucks are returned to dismantling-and-shredding facilities, and of that total, 75 percent of the vehicle content is recycled.
 "By improving the recyclability of our products even further, we can add to the resale value of our vehicles and provide for the more efficient use of natural resources," Poston said.
 The auto industry's recycling consortium, formed in late 1991, is exploring vehicle recycling issues, pinpointing areas for joint research and promoting the use of recyclable and recycled materials in vehicle design. It recently established the Big Three's first joint research facility, a 63,000-square-foot recycling development center in Highland Park, Mich.
 North America boasts an extensive network of more than 180 shredders and 12,000 automotive recyclers. Last year, U.S. shredding operations recovered more than 11 million tons of steel and other ferrous metals and 800,000 tons of non-ferrous metals.
 Unlike domestic recycling operations, automotive recycling enterprises in Europe generally are not profitable today. A number of European auto manufacturers now offer to take back their newer models at no charge when they're ready for scrap, because Europe's limited market for scrapped cars would otherwise force customers to pay for their disposal.
 Automotive recyclers here remove all of the reusable parts before a vehicle is shredded, including bumpers, catalytic converters, batteries, radiators, engines, fuel and water pumps and transmissions. Often, any leftover oil is reclaimed for use in oil furnaces.
 The 25 percent of a shredded vehicle that is not currently recycled -- plastics, glass, sealers, fabric, adhesives, paint, rubber, etc. -- is called "auto shredder residue" or "fluff." About 3 million tons of "fluff" is landfilled each year, which is less than 2 percent of the total amount of municipal solid waste landfilled annually.
 But with 20 or more states already facing serious landfill shortages, the consortium's effort to reduce automotive residue is an important one, said Poston.
 Automakers are targeting plastics -- about 30 percent of the fluff -- for special attention because plastics are the fastest-growing automotive material, Poston explained. Plastics recycling presents a special challenge because of the many different chemical formulas found within the major plastic families used by the auto industry. Some automotive scrap plastics also are coated with paint and other materials, adding another dimension to the challenge.
 Some plastics already are recycled, according to Poston. And while many design issues are off-limits for joint study due to their competitive nature, the Big Three have voluntarily agreed to use the same code for labeling plastic parts weighing more than 100 grams to make them easier to sort and recycle.
 In March of 1993, the American Plastics Council's (APC) Automotive Committee released preliminary results of projects and studies it has initiated that reveal substantial progress in efforts to develop solutions for the recovery and recycling of post-consumer automotive plastics.
 The APC studies include the repair and reuse of plastic parts from scrapped automobiles, the dismantling and separation of plastic parts from scrapped automobiles for recycling, and recovery of plastics from automobile shredder residue.
 Each of the Big Three automakers also has asked its engineers to consider recyclability when designing future vehicles without sacrificing performance and quality along the way.
 The recycling consortium is part of the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR), a Dearborn-based umbrella organization formed by Chrysler, Ford and General Motors to promote pre-competitive research. The recycling partnership is working with plastics trade groups, national research laboratories and the recycling industry on areas of common concern. The consortium, for example, recently signed agreements with both the American Plastics Council and the Automotive Recyclers Association.
 -0- 10/19/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: For interviews or further information:
 Public Relations Contact: VRP Interview Candidates:
 Mary Roznowski Irv Poston
 General Motors Corporation Manager, Polymer Composites
 313-986-5717 General Motors Corporation
 Pam Kueber Sandy Labana
 Ford Motor Company Manager, Polymer Science Department
 313-337-2456 Research Staff
 Ford Motor Company
 Chris Preuss Susan Yester
 Chrysler Corporation Executive, Recycling Program
 313-576-8095 Chrysler Corporation
 Larry Weis Donald Walkowicz
 USCAR Executive Director
 313-248-4298 USCAR/
 (C F GM)

CO: United States Council for Automotive Research ST: Michigan IN: AUT ENV SU:

LV -- NYAFNS1 -- 3691 10/19/93 06:46 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 19, 1993

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