Mazda develops technology to recycle auto bumpers

Car maker Mazda has developed what it says is a significant step forward in recycling plastic automobile bumpers by developing the world’s first technology to simultaneously handle bumpers from different car makers while automating processes such as removing metal contaminants.

The technology will eliminate the need for separate collection systems of bumpers from different car makers, and streamline labour-intensive processes such as removing metals.

Hiroshima-based Mazda said the technology combines all the recycling stages involved in crushing used bumpers through to reproducing raw materials, into a single automated process. These innovations represent a significant step forward for the industry.

Mazda said that previously, polypropylene bumpers from different manufacturers had to be recycled separately because of differences in the composition of the polypropylene and the paint adhesion.

The technology, which the company said is similar to a kneading machine used in food or chemical processing, applies a powerful shear to the recycled plastic, effectively stripping off paint.

Mazda said the process also automates removal of metal attachments, a very labour intensive process that had required hand-sorting and visual inspection, by using jets of pressurised air.