Did you know that by 2020, the average modern car will have up to 350 kilograms of plastic on board?
Unless you’re driving a vintage Fifties model – cars of old were mostly steel – your ride is about 50% plastic. Probably the most evident plastic component is the bumper, but think also of your car lights’ plastic covers, dashboard, buttons and levers, seat belts, air bag, carpeting, cup holders and the fabric covering the seats, just to mention a few.
The high resistance and durability of plastic components, coupled with their low weight is one of the main reasons for which they are so extensively used; reducing weight reduces fuel consumption.
However, with half a million cars disposed of in Australia each year, that’s a LOT of plastic to recycle.
The Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) recently called on the State government to do something about it. The variation of quality, quantity and consistency of plastics, along with the extent to which plastic is distributed throughout the vehicle, all make it difficult to determine what is worth recycling.
The recycling process is costly, and plastic is in direct competition with other, more valuable materials, such as steel and aluminium. As a result, the majority of plastic is disposed of via landfill, which is a major environmental concern.
“If countries such as Germany, South Korea, Japan, United Kingdom and Norway can institute regulated ELV [end-of-life vehicle] policies, why can’t we?” says Geoff Gwilym, VACC CEO. “These countries acknowledge that a sound ELV strategy is essential to good environmental and economic governance. Such systems also contribute to meeting environmental obligations under international law.”
Recognising the environmental and economic concerns related to the disposal of ELVs, VACC recommends that both State and Federal governments take this issue seriously and work towards a nationally implemented ELV plan.