Published in Proceedings of the 99th Annual Meeting and Exhibition of the Air and Waste Management Association: New Orleans, LA, June 1, 2006.
A rating system was developed to quantify the environmental impacts of light-duty motor vehicles at the end of their life-cycle 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 U.S. solid waste landfills annually. The volume of this residue is likely to increase as vehicle manufacturers continue to use more plastics and composites in their designs to reduce weight and increase fuel efficiency. The rating system developed here will help educate consumers about environmental performance and allow them to factor this performance into their choice of automobiles. The score of this rating system has the potential to appear on new vehicle stickers, similar to the fuel efficiency value. This, in turn, is expected to influence the vehicle manufacturers' choices of design and manufacturing methods. This would provide a voluntary incentive for pollution prevention in much the same way as the Toxic Release Inventory helps reduce the amount of hazardous waste produced. The end-of-life vehicle (ELV) rating system, modeled after life cycle assessment, has two parts: one based on recyclability and one based on toxicity. The recyclability portion is based on the content of ferrous and non-ferrous metal content (which is 100% recyclable) and plastic for which there is a market for recycling. The toxicity index is based on the content of lead (excluding batteries, which are recycled), mercury, cadmium and chromium. This rating system was tested on a generic 1995 vehicle. The paper also includes an analysis of the aggressive ELV legislation approaches of Europe and Japan.
Civil and Environmental Engineering