Chrysler tests parts from recycled plastic
DETROIT - The Chrysler arm of DaimlerChrysler AG unveiled yesterday a system aimed at cutting costs by building vehicle parts out of plastic that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
About 75 percent of a modern vehicle\'s weight can be recycled, mostly its metal parts, with the remainder thrown out. Chrysler said its project aimed to increase the portion of a vehicle that can be recycled to 95 percent.
Working with two recycling companies and 26 suppliers, the automaker was able to make 54 plastic parts for a Jeep Grand Cherokee out of plastic recycled from cars, dishwashers and even old gloves from Chrysler plants.
Bernard Robertson, Chrysler\'s senior vice president of engineering technologies and regulatory affairs, said the process created parts equal to the original components in most respects. He said the company estimated it could save $10 to $20 per vehicle if the process went into regular use, and that the industry as a whole could save $320 million a year.
\"The purpose was to demonstrate to ourselves this was economically viable, and to demonstrate to suppliers this was feasible,\" Robertson said.
Such a process could also help DaimlerChrysler in Europe, where regulators have proposed forcing automakers to take back vehicles at the end of their useful lives for recycling.
Robertson said the next step would be convincing a major recycler to build a plastic center capable of supplying auto parts companies in sufficient volume. Once built, the plastic could show up in vehicles within two to three years.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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