Graduates working at an automotive engine manufacturer were given the task of identifying ways of reducing the company’s impact on the environment. They noticed that some parts used to produce the engines came with small plastic caps and plugs to protect the machined surfaces. The caps and plugs should have been recycled but when the graduates visited the recycling site they found the caps and plugs where in fact being sent to landfill. The graduates identified this as a potential area for improvement.
We initially met the graduates to discuss the problem and identify the type of material the caps were made from. The caps and plugs from each line were sent for material testing.
Our first thoughts were to investigate the possibility of separating the caps and plugs into their individual polymer types, but this would require considerable capital investment in machinery, which in the current market was not an option. We looked for an alternative solution, which led us to a contacting company which could sort polymers after granulation.
By teaming up with the contractor we were able to granulate the redundant material and return it to production in applications suitable for the polymer involved. This avoided the caps and plugs being sent to landfill and fulfilled the graduates’ task of reducing the company’s impact on the environment.