The less work involved in recycling, the better. That’s the thinking behind Mazda’s automated bumper-recycling process. The newly-developed technology is simple enough: Feed a bumper from any vehicle manufacturer into a crusher that removes metal and paint. A machine sorts out the remaining pieces, and voila! Raw plastic resin pellets are available for new bumpers. The crusher’s pellet-kneading process is similar to the technology used for processing food and rubber, and the sorting machine is similar to those used to separate contaminants from cereal grains.
Before now, bumper recycling was a laborious process. Metal attachments had to be removed by hand, and bumpers from different manufacturers had to be recycled separately due to differences in paint and plastic composition.
That’s a lot of effort and expense to recycle something present on hundreds of millions of vehicles–enough effort and expense that it would be easy for less reputable car companies to skip bumper recycling altogether, especially since little infrastructure is in place for plastic bumper recycling.
Now that Mazda has unleashed its bumper crusher, though, look for more recycled-plastic bumpers when you’re tailgating.