Recyclability Index for Automobiles

EPA Grant Number: SU832479
Title: Recyclability Index for Automobiles
Investigators: Nelson, Yarrow M. , Cota, Harold , Kean, Andrew , McDonald, Margot , Richards, Deanna , Tsuji, Alexander , Vanasupa, Linda
Current Investigators: Nelson, Yarrow M. , Cota, Harold , Kean, Andrew , McDonald, Margot , Richards, Deanna , Tsuji, Alexander , Vanasupa, Linda , Vigil, Sam
Institution: California Polytechnic State Univ - San Luis Obispo
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: December 30, 2005 through May 30, 2006
Project Amount: $9,990
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The project's purpose is to create a rating system for the ecological impacts of vehicles at the end of their life based on recyclability, toxic material content, and ultimate disposal. Each year, 10-11 million vehicles are retired from service in the United States. The vehicle material not recycled is called Automotive Shredder Residue (ASR). About 4.5 to 5 million tons of ASR are disposed in solid waste landfills. This residue will increase as vehicle manufacturers continue to use more plastics and composites in their designs to reduce weight and increase fuel efficiency. The proposed grading system will help educate consumers about environmental performance and allow them to factor this performance into their choice of automobiles. This, in turn, is expected to influence the vehicle producer's choice of manufacturing methods in the same way as the Toxic Release Inventory helped reduce the amount of hazardous waste produced in the mid-1980s. The rating system will be modeled after life cycle assessment with weighted criteria for the recycling ability of vehicle components. The rating system will be tested on two 2005 model vehicles including a sensitivity analysis to see the effect, for example, of replacing a hazardous component of the car (mercury switch) with a non-hazardous one (mercury-free switch). The rating system will be developed with guidance from a team of professors with broad engineering backgrounds as well as industry professionals. A large part of the project's budget covers travel expenses for networking with the United States, European industrial professionals and EPA personnel. This project will be included into a second year college level eco-product/life-cycle-assessment class in the Materials Engineering Department and in a senior level pollution prevention class in the Environmental Engineering Department.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

pollution prevention, life-cycle analysis, waste reduction, engineering, transportation, recycle, automobile,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Environmental Chemistry, Technology, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Chemistry and Materials Science, Chemicals Management, Environmental Engineering, biopolymers, life cycle analysis, energy conservation, automotive supply chain, biodegradable plastics, clean technologies, cleaner production, environmentally conscious manufacturing, green design, nanocomposite, air pollution control, automotive industry, environmental conscious construction, environmental sustainability, automotive components, biodegradeable nanocomposites, alternative materials, clean manufacturing, environmentally applicable nanoparticles, environmentally friendly green products, nanomaterials, environmentally benign alternative, life cycle assessment, Design for Environment, polypropylene substitute, automotive interior parts, environmentally conscious design

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report