Galway Research Team leads the way in Car Recycling Drive
Tuesday, 21 May 2002
When it comes to recycling, Galway has led the country in recent years. Now, a Galway research team is leading the world in the recycling of cars. A new EU directive, set to come into force this month, will mean that cars will have to be recycled when they reach the end of their lives. The European End of Life Vehicle Directive aims to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill when cars are disposed of.
A research group in the Computer Integrated Manufacturing Research Unit (CIMRU) in NUI, Galway, is working on a project to develop the most efficient methods of recycling cars. The CIMRU team is working on the basis that there is a hierarchy of options for dealing with old cars. The most preferable option is to reuse parts. Material and recycling comes next with disposal in landfill being the least preferred option.
Currently, some 75% of the weight of cars is recycled with the remaining 25% sent to landfill. This waste accounts for 10% of all hazardous waste generated yearly in the EU. The disposal of fluids such as oil, brake fluid and petrol can cause serious pollution unless disposed of properly. Other materials including foam, plastics and wiring also qualify as hazardous waste which may have detrimental effects on the environment.
The EU End of Life Directive aims to reduce the amount of hazardous waste being sent to landfill to 15% by 2006 and to 5% by 2015. To achieve this, car manufacturers will be encouraged to use more reusable and recyclable materials in their cars and also to design products that will be easier to recycle when they reach the end of their lives. The team in CIMRU will help by coming up with computerised methods of tracking these materials throughout the lifetime of the car.
The Directive also proposes that all cars be depolluted before being recycled. This involves removing all oil, petrol, brake fluid and other such dangerous materials. Currently, there are between eight and nine million cars disposed of annually in Europe and 150,000 in Ireland. About 7% of these are illegally dumped as abandoned wrecks.
In addition to coming up with a system that will deal with all these aspects of car recycling, the tools being developed in CIMRU can also be applied in other areas, such as in the disposal of hospital waste.
According to Neil Ferguson, the project manager at CIMRU: "we, together with our Irish and European partners, will come up with systems that are primarily aimed at car recycling and hospital waste treatment. However, we will be developing methodologies that can also be applied to other areas. We are developing a suite of tools that can be used for end of life recovery across all sectors".
Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel: 091-750418