Lessons from a century of innovating car recycling value chains
Journal article, 2017
End-of-Life Vehicles (ELVs) contain materials that may be beneficial to recycle. While metals such as iron, aluminium and platinum are recycled at high rates, materials such plastics and most scarce metals are recycled at low rates or not at all. Insight into how recycling systems form and develop is limited in current research, but may provide a better understanding for how to increase recycling rates. This paper utilises the technological innovation system framework to identify key functions from 1910 to 2010 that enabled ELV iron recycling in Sweden. Initiatives for improving capabilities to recycle other materials are also discussed. Results indicate that early structural changes in the steel industry were crucial. Subsequently, ELV iron could be utilised by this industry through build-up of an increasingly specialised ELV system. We argue that reproducing the key functions that enabled ELV iron recycling may serve to increase recycling rates also of other ELV materials.