Scrapping steel components for recycling—Isn’t that good enough? Seeking improvements in automotive component end-of-life
Journal article, 2016
Life cycle management (LCM) suggests that companies take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products, either alone or together with other lifecycle actors. This paper examines the case of an automotive component manufacturer that has committed to LCM and wants to investigate product end of life (EoL) management despite the fact that it is a couple stages removed from the vehicle end-user and EoL vehicle (ELV) handling. Material flow analysis (MFA) is used to estimate and create Sankey diagrams of the downstream flows of two components made of low-alloyed steel, one wheel component and one gearbox component. Product sales data was analyzed and composition and design trends were considered to add perspectives beyond those yielded by looking at the bulk material flow. The components of interest are not remanufactured themselves but the gearboxes in which they sit are. Remanufacturers of gearboxes visited indicated a great variability in how much they replace the components of interest suggesting an opportunity for the case company to support remanufacturers in quality control and extension of use life. In regards to component EoL, many components are sent through shredding as part of ELV treatment but a comparable amount is liberated from vehicles and scrapped during vehicle maintenance. Regardless, the components end up in mixed scrap and alloying elements are rarely functionally recycled. According to commodity experts, an alternative to handle such components separately for functional recycling is practically limited. Component quantities and their values do not appear to justify additional administration and transport that would be require to sort, store and collect them. Accordingly, when considering societal interest to increase functional recycling and to activate the circular economy, it seems warranted to investigate what a recycling program for similar material grades could yield and subsequently, to consider what collaborative efforts or policy intervention would be relevant.
Life cycle management (LCM)
Product end-of-life management