A Guide to Non-Metal Parts Recycling: What Happens to Plastics and Fabrics?


When we think about recycling cars, the focus often falls on the metal components, given their significant value and ease of recycling. However, cars also contain a variety of non-metal parts, including plastics, fabrics, rubber, and glass. Properly recycling these materials is crucial for reducing waste and minimizing environmental impact. In this guide, we'll explore the process of recycling non-metal parts of cars and the benefits of doing so for the environment.

The Importance of Recycling Non-Metal Parts

Non-metal components in vehicles are essential for reducing the overall weight and improving fuel efficiency. However, these materials can pose environmental challenges if not properly disposed of. Recycling plastics, fabrics, and other non-metal parts helps conserve resources, reduce landfill waste, and decrease pollution.

Recycling Plastics

Types of Plastics in Cars: Vehicles contain a wide range of plastic materials, including bumpers, dashboards, seats, interior trim, and various under-the-hood components. These plastics can be categorized into thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics, each requiring different recycling processes.

The Recycling Process:

  1. Collection and Sorting: The first step in recycling plastics from cars involves collecting and sorting the different types of plastics. Advanced sorting technologies, such as infrared spectroscopy, help identify and separate the various plastic types accurately.
  2. Shredding and Cleaning: Once sorted, the plastics are shredded into smaller pieces. These fragments are then thoroughly cleaned to remove any contaminants, such as dirt, oils, and residues.
  3. Melting and Reforming: Clean plastic fragments are melted down and reformed into new plastic products. This process, known as re-extrusion, allows the plastic to be molded into new shapes and applications, reducing the need for virgin plastic production.
  4. Applications of Recycled Plastics: Recycled plastics can be used in a variety of applications, including manufacturing new automotive parts, consumer goods, construction materials, and packaging. By reusing these materials, we reduce the demand for new plastics and minimize environmental impact.

Recycling Fabrics

Types of Fabrics in Cars: Car interiors often feature various fabrics, including seat upholstery, carpets, headliners, and insulation materials. These fabrics can be made from natural fibers, synthetic fibers, or a blend of both.

The Recycling Process:

  1. Removal and Sorting: Fabrics are carefully removed from the vehicle and sorted based on their material type. Natural fibers and synthetic fibers are processed differently, so accurate sorting is crucial.
  2. Cleaning and Shredding: Similar to plastics, fabrics undergo a cleaning process to remove any contaminants. After cleaning, the fabrics are shredded into smaller fibers.
  3. Reprocessing: The shredded fibers are then reprocessed into new textile products. For natural fibers, this may involve spinning them into new yarns, while synthetic fibers can be melted and re-extruded into new materials.
  4. Applications of Recycled Fabrics: Recycled fabrics find new life in various industries. They can be used in the production of new automotive textiles, clothing, home furnishings, and insulation materials. By recycling automotive fabrics, we reduce textile waste and promote sustainable manufacturing practices.

Environmental Impact of Recycling Non-Metal Parts

Recycling non-metal parts of cars offers several environmental benefits:

  1. Resource Conservation: Recycling plastics and fabrics reduces the need for virgin materials, conserving natural resources like petroleum, used in plastic production, and cotton or wool for fabrics.
  2. Energy Savings: Producing new materials from recycled content requires less energy compared to manufacturing from raw materials. This energy savings translates to lower greenhouse gas emissions and a smaller carbon footprint.
  3. Waste Reduction: Properly recycling non-metal parts prevents them from ending up in landfills, where they would contribute to waste and potentially release harmful pollutants into the environment.
  4. Pollution Prevention: Recycling helps mitigate pollution by reducing the need for new material extraction and processing, which can generate significant air and water pollution.

Calgary's Commitment to Non-Metal Recycling

Calgary's car recycling industry is dedicated to responsibly managing non-metal parts through innovative recycling processes and sustainable practices. Recycling centers in Calgary use advanced technologies and collaborate with industry partners to ensure efficient and effective recycling of plastics and fabrics.



Recycling non-metal parts of cars, such as plastics and fabrics, is an essential aspect of responsible vehicle disposal. By understanding and participating in these recycling processes, car owners can contribute to resource conservation, energy savings, waste reduction, and pollution prevention. Calgary's commitment to non-metal recycling demonstrates the city's dedication to environmental sustainability and responsible waste management. When it comes time to recycle your vehicle, consider the importance of non-metal parts and choose a recycling center that prioritizes eco-friendly practices. Together, we can make a significant impact on the environment and promote a greener future for all.

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