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Mazda First to Recycle End-of-Life Vehicle Bumpers into New Vehicle Bumpers


HIROSHIMA, Japan - Mazda Motor Corporation has become the world’s first* automaker to successfully recycle scrapped bumpers from end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) into raw material for new vehicle bumpers. The new technology was inaugurated on August 21, 2011 and is initially being used to make rear bumpers for the Mazda Biante minivan.

Conventionally, bumpers from ELVs are processed into automobile shredder residue (ASR) and incinerated to recover heat energy (thermal recycling). By enabling the ELV bumpers to be recycled into material for new vehicle bumpers, the new technology improves the material recycling ratio (MRR) of Mazda vehicles and contributes to more effective use of resources.

Bumpers comprise a large proportion of the plastic used in vehicles and Mazda is proactively developing bumper recycling technologies as an effective way to increase vehicle MRR. Mazda became an industry leader in bumper recycling when it began processing damaged bumpers collected from in-use vehicles through its dealer network in Japan. Mazda then aimed to further develop this damaged bumper recycling technology and adapt it for recycling ELV bumpers.

Many ELVs are over 10 years old, so the composition of the bumpers’ polypropylene plastic and the adhesive properties of the paint vary considerably. Before recycling, unwanted materials such as metal attachments must also be removed. As a result, processing ELV bumpers into new material has previously been technically and economically difficult.

To overcome this, in the 1990s Mazda began designing bumpers to be easily recyclable, and now the number of ELV bumpers that can be efficiently dismantled is increasing. Mazda has also developed and implemented efficient ELV bumper collection and processing methods in collaboration with Yamako Corporation and Takase Gosei Kagaku Corporation, companies based in Hiroshima prefecture, western Japan. As a result of these initiatives, the cost of recycling is less than the cost of purchasing new plastic.

Initially, Mazda is collecting bumpers from end-of-life Mazda vehicles in the Hiroshima area, and the recycled plastic will comprise approximately 10 percent of each new bumper produced.

Currently, approximately 20 percent by weight of ELVs (parts made of plastics, rubber and other materials) is incinerated as ASR. Bumpers comprise a large proportion of the plastic so collecting and recycling ELV bumpers is expected to make a significant contribution to reducing ASR and optimizing efficient use of resources.

Going forward, Mazda will continue to develop advanced recycling technologies, including bumper-to-bumper recycling, as it strives toward a sustainable future.

* As of August 2011 (Mazda data)

History of Mazda’s bumper recycling technologies
Year Details
1992 Began collecting damaged bumpers (that were replaced at dealer service centers) and recycling them for use as vehicle undercovers.
2001 Implemented mechanical paint removal technology, increased the strength of recycled plastic to the same level as new plastic, and began using recycled plastic to reinforce new bumpers.
2002 Optimized the paint removal process, improving the paint removal rate from 98% to 99%. Recycled resin used for new (dimpled black plastic) bumpers on Mazda Bongo Friendee from July 2003.
2003 Developed an optical selection mechanism and new paint removal technology in collaboration with Satake Corporation which increased the paint removal rate to 99.9%. The resulting recycled plastic achieved the necessary strength and quality for use as replacement painted bumpers.
2005 Began continuous recycling of damaged bumpers as raw material for use in new car bumpers.
2009 Developed the world’s first automated recycling technology for end-of-life vehicle bumpers.

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