With new European regulations requiring 95 percent of a vehicle to be recyclable, Kia has already made sure that its products meet the requirement and is even aiming for 100-percent recyclability – thanks to techniques developed at the carmaker’s Automobile Resource Regeneration (ARR) centers.
The latest European Union directive requires 85 percent of a scrapped vehicle to be recycled or re-used while a further 10 percent will be used for energy recovery from the combustion of non-recyclable residues – something that the South Korean carmaker has a lead over its rivals.
In fact, at its Hwasung site in South Korea, Kia has been developing end-of-life treatment technologies aimed at reducing the environmental and social impact of its cars since 2005.
The Hwasung ARR has been instrumental in designing and assembling Kia vehicles. It has been also instrumental in choosing materials used in production. Contemporary vehicles usually have explosive materials in airbags as well as large amount of environmentally hostile solids and liquids.
Although metal parts like the car body, engine and gearbox are easy to recycle, it has been a challenge to recycle parts made of plastics and rubbers. With Kia’s process, 95 percent of a vehicle has become recyclable with only five percent sent to landfill or incinerated without energy recovery.
The carmaker’s eight-stage dismantling process at its ARR centers allows it to recover as many materials as possible for re-using. Likewise, the process ensures that parts that cannot be recycled are disposed of with the minimum environmental impact.
Processes like this make Kia one of the world leaders in the development of hybrid, electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, while seeking cut fuel consumption and emissions of its combustion vehicles.
In September 2000, the European Union released the Directive on End-of-Life Vehicles (Directive 2000/53/EC) that aims to make the dismantling and recycling of scrapped (end-of-life) vehicles more environmentally friendly. The ELV Directive sets quantified targets for reuse, recycling and recovery of the end-of-life vehicles including their components and materials, as well as spare and replacement parts.
In creating the directive, the EU noted every year, end-of-life vehicles generate between 7 million and 8 million tons of waste in its territory, acknowledging that this should be managed correctly. The directive urges carmakers to build new vehicles without hazardous substances, allowing for the reuse, recyclability and recovery of waste vehicles.
The ELV Directive sets a two-fold target for reuse and recycling of scrapped vehicles. By January 1, 2006, 80 percent of a scrapped vehicle should be recycled or re-used. The percentage increases to 85 percent by January 1, 2015.