The automotive industry needs to "reimagine" its value chain in order to transition to a circular economy, researchers at the American Chemistry Council say.
As automakers continue to set sustainability goals, Gina Oliver, senior director of the automotive plastics division at ACC, told Plastics News
that "a lot of change" and coordination will be required to escape from the "make-use-dispose" system.
"We don't have everybody on the same page," Oliver said. "We know it's important to start that conversation now."
The ACC's Oct. 5 report
, Transitioning Toward a Circular Economy for Automotive Plastics and Polymer Composites identifies focus areas and existing products and processes that could improve industrywide efforts to increase the circularity of automotive materials and components.
The traditional automotive value chain, Oliver said, "needs to expand to include recyclers and dismantlers."
While U.S. automakers and material suppliers are currently "working toward" sustainability goals without legislation requiring they do so, she said the industry still "might need help, potentially from congress, to help us certify with the agencies that recycled content is good, valuable and desirable. Get that stamp of approval."
Getting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency "engaging on recycling initiatives," Oliver said, could help to build the much-needed infrastructure.
Carmakers and suppliers should pair with municipalities and economic development groups "to get funding for infrastructure for better and more recycling facilities, and not just have them regionally siloed around the nation," she said.