Through its joint project, MaterialLoop, Audi proves you can turn old cars into new. The project aims to “close the loop” on materials, such as steel, aluminum, plastic and glass, by recycling them to build new cars and drastically reduce emissions and waste.
Petrol-powered cars emit approximately 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, according to EPA data. However, even before these vehicles hit the road and long after, they pollute the land.
The production of aluminum, steel, plastics and glass can generate significant carbon emissions over time. THE IEA estimates direct CO2 emissions from crude steel production are approximately 1.39 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of steel produced.
Although direct CO2 intensity has fallen slightly in recent years, the IEA says “substantial reductions” are still needed to get on track. Net zero scenario zero emissions by 2050.
This has led some automakers, environmentalists and other policy makers to develop the idea of a circular economy in the automotive industry. In other words, recycling old car parts to make new vehicles.
Audi has teamed up with 15 research, recycling and supplier partners as part of its “MaterialLoop” project, which focuses on saving valuable materials and reusing them for production, which will reduce the vehicle’s environmental footprint. .
Audi shares the results of its recycled car project
As of October 2022, Audi says 100 vehicles have been dismantled as part of the project. After dismantling, the cars’ materials were sorted into groups such as steel, aluminum, plastic and glass, as the partners tested the reuse of each after recycling.
The findings of the project, according to car weeksuggest that over 85% of the steel and over 60% of the aluminum in end-of-life Audi vehicles can be reused and recycled for future cars.
Audi uses recycled steel to build door interior parts for around 15,000 vehicles at its press plant in Ingolstadt, Germany.
The German carmaker says it has been gathering knowledge on the use of recycled car glass since last spring in a separate pilot project. Car windows broken beyond repair are smashed into small pieces and melted. In fact, Audi claims that the glass is already used in production for the Q4 e-tron Electric SUV (photo above).
For the first time, Audi has implemented a process that uses chemical recycling to reuse plastic waste for mass production of the Audi Q8 e-tron.
Several automakers have used the idea of a circular economy in the automotive industry as a means of greenwashing; Audi seems to be taking a strategic approach and finding promising results.
If Audi can recover more than 85% of its steel and 60% of the aluminum from its vehicles, that would be a huge breakthrough, not only for Audi but also for other Volkswagen brands and the industry as a whole.
Using recycled raw materials would benefit everyone, with fewer emissions, lower costs and more available resources. With so many gas-powered vehicles on the verge of extinction as the automotive industry goes electric, recycling will become a key factor in securing materials.
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