As part of our commitment to a greener future, LKQ is continually researching new ways to reuse old materials. Currently, it is estimated that automotive recycling is able to successfully divert on average 82% of a used vehicle, by weight, from the landfill. To improve this percentage, LKQ engages in continual research with material suppliers, recycling companies, trade associations, and others.
Current projects include:
Seat Foam Recycling
The majority of automotive seat and interior foam is currently sent to landfills. LKQ is part of a pilot program to evaluate the foam’s recycling potential. Emerging technology suggests that the polyurethane foam may be used in manufacturing new products once it has been chemically treated and broken down.
In cooperation with the Automobile Recyclers Association (ARA), LKQ is participating in a study to collect information that can help improve vehicle design for enhanced fluid collection. Though every effort is made to evacuate all fluids from a vehicle (gasoline, oil, coolants, etc.), it is impossible to retrieve every last drop. To understand the design problems, LKQ collects data on the amount of fluid left behind in system reservoirs after vehicles are processed.
Nylon Airbag Recycling
Although un-deployed airbags may be taken from vehicles and safely used in automotive repairs, deployed nylon airbags cannot be used again. Several obstacles have slowed interest in this area, including a difficult removal process and potential contamination problems. In an attempt to prevent these materials from being sent to landfills, LKQ and a partner company are investigating economical ways to recycle the used nylon airbag material.
Hybrid Batteries and Composites
Hybrid vehicles and new composites are emerging trends that most car recyclers are not equipped to handle. Though hybrid batteries make up a small percentage of the total cars manufactured and the new composite materials are currently in limited use, both are expected to increase in the future. LKQ is collaborating with car manufacturers to create and improve methods of recycling hybrid batteries and composites, while developing the necessary infrastructure for collection, transport and processing of these materials.