Plastics challenge: Diverting end of life vehicle plastics from landfills

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) are seeking environmentally acceptable and cost-effective technologies that will enable the diversion of End of Life Vehicles (ELVs) plastics from landfills and their conversion into valuable materials and/or molecules.

Sponsoring Department: National Research Council of Canada

Funding mechanism: Grant

Opening date: February 12, 2020
Closing date: May 28, 2020 14:00 Eastern Daylight Time

Prospective applicants should refer to the Innovative Solutions Canada Grant Instructions and Procedures document.

Phase 1 award recipients

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Challenge

Problem statement

It is estimated that Canada generates between 300 and 400 kt per year of automotive plastic waste, which is a component of Automotive Shredder Residue (ASR), a mix of non-metallic materials coming from end-of-life vehicles.

After drainage of operating fluids and dismantling of reusable parts, ELVs are compressed and shredded. Most of the valuable ferrous and non-ferrous metals are recovered using established separation technologies. The non-metallic components, known as ASR, consist of a mix of plastics, rubbers, textiles and other fibrous materials, glass and metal fragments. As it is a complex feedstock in terms of composition and as it contains several contaminants and toxic substances, there is currently no cost-effective method to valorize ASR. Therefore, most of the ASR is currently sent to landfills, where it is used as a cover material.

Proposed solutions shall target:

* Option 1: The dismantling of plastic components prior to ELVs shredding and their conversion into valuable materials and/or molecules.
Or,
* Option 2: The conversion of ASR into valuable materials and/or molecules.

IMPORTANT: 

  1. Proposals that do not lead to end products materials of consistent quality will NOT be considered.
  2. Proposals presenting a strategy based on the direct incorporation of ELVs plastics into manufactured products, such as composites, concrete or asphalt, will NOT be considered.
  3. Proposals presenting a direct waste-to-energy approach such as co-incineration will NOT be considered.

Please note that proposed innovations must respect all relevant federal, provincial, and municipal environmental regulations such as the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012 under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Desired Outcomes

Essential (Mandatory) outcomes

The proposed solutions must:

Phase 1

  1. Describe a complete strategy for the conversion of ELVs plastics into valuable materials and/or molecules.

    Definitions: 

    • ‘Plastics’ refers to all types of polymers (thermoplastics, thermosets and rubbers, filled or unfilled).
    • Example end products ‘materials’ include (but are not limited to) polymers, solid carbons (e.g. carbon black, graphite, etc.) or other valuable materials that can further be used in manufactured products.
    • Example end products ‘molecules’ include valuable chemicals, monomers or fuels.
  2. Present a clear pathway to commercialization and industrial implementation;
  3. Be scalable;
  4. Integrate well with the current processes and infrastructures used for ELVs recycling in Canada;
  5. Result in a laboratory-scale or pilot-scale prototype system that:
    • Enables the conversion of at least 40% of ELVs plastics into valuable materials and/or molecules, as demonstrated at the laboratory or pilot-scale;
    • Has the potential to enable the separate recovery of toxic substances (the list can be found at the following address, https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/canadian-environmental-protection-act-registry/factsheet-prohibition-toxic-substances-regulations.html.);
    • Once scaled-up, has the potential to operate at throughputs equivalent to those of ELVs recycling facilities (50 tons / hour and more);
    • Has the potential to bring environmental benefits compared to the current landfilling practice, as demonstrated by early Life Cycle Analysis (LCA);
    • The final Phase 1 report should include the analysis of the cost component of the process and the potential value generated by this technology in order to demonstrate that it is a cost-effective strategy. 

Phase 2

  1. Lead to an automated, safe-to-operate, hands-off operation, semi-industrial scale or industrial scale system that:
    • Enables the conversion of at least 60% of ELVs plastics into valuable materials and/or molecules, as demonstrated at the semi-industrial or industrial scale
    • Enables the separate recovery of toxic substances (the list can be found at the following address, https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/canadian-environmental-protection-act-registry/factsheet-prohibition-toxic-substances-regulations.html.), as demonstrated at the semi-industrial or industrial scale;
    • Is capable of operating at throughputs equivalent to those of ELVs recycling facilities (50 tons / hour and more), as demonstrated at the semi-industrial or industrial scale;
    • Brings environmental benefits compared to the current landfilling practice, as demonstrated by Life Cycle Analysis (LCA);
    • The final Phase 2 report should include the analysis of the cost component of the process and the potential value generated by this technology in order to demonstrate that it is a cost-effective strategy. 

Note: Applicants are reminded that under Question 1a (Scope) proposals must describe how solutions clearly meet all 6 of the Essential (Mandatory) Outcomes listed in this section. Applicants should focus their Phase 1 project plan on demonstrating the feasibility of Essential Criteria 1-5. Applicants can focus on Essential Criteria 6 during Phase 2 work.

Background and Context

It is estimated that Canada generates between 300 and 400 kt per year of automotive plastic wasteFootnote 1, which is a component of Automotive Shredder Residue (ASR), a mix of non-metallic materials coming from end-of-life vehicles.

After drainage of operating fluids and dismantling of reusable parts, ELVs are compressed and shredded. The valuable ferrous and non-ferrous metals are recovered using established separation technologies such as magnetic separators and Eddy currents. The non-metallic components, defined as ASR, consist of a mix of plastics, textiles and other fibrous materials, rubbers, glass and metal fragments. The exact composition, physical properties and granulometry of ASR depend mainly on the feedstock, shredding equipment, and post-shredding separation processes. As a starting point, the applicants can work around the information given in ReferencesFootnote 2Footnote 3. ASR can contain contaminants such as automotive fluids (motor oils, lubricants, etc.), halogenated products (chlorinated plastics such as polyvinyl chloride – PVC, brominated fire retardants, etc.), heavy metals (mercury, lead, cadmium, etc.) and persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

The heterogeneity of ASR, with varying levels of contamination, moisture content, ash content and calorific value, constitutes a considerable challenge to select or design an appropriate valorization process. Currently, the vast majority of the ASR generated in Canada is used as cover materials in landfills. As usage of plastics in vehicles is expected to grow due to their use as substitution materials for lightweighting and hence fuel consumption and greenhouse gases emissions reduction, there is a need to develop environmentally acceptable and cost-effective strategies for ELVs plastics recycling in Canada.

Current technologies:

Due to a very large diversity in car brands, models and architectures, efficient dismantling of plastic parts at large scale prior to shredding is currently not demonstrated. Only two examples can be found, both slow paced and very selective. The first is the BMW Group Recycling and Dismantling Center (RDC). In that case, each car is taken separately, dried of every fluids, partially manually dismantled and finally crushed and shredded. Only large parts like bumpers car be salvaged before shreddingFootnote 4. The other example is the development of car dismantling machines (Kobelco Construction Machinery), still human operated, but able to roughly disassemble cars prior to shredding. The result is faster than manual disassembling, but less accurate and only focuses on large parts separation (bumpers). Those techniques are slow, not accurate and only focus on the separation and do not address the transformation stepFootnote 5.

Technologies that have been investigated to valorize the ASR fall into 3 main categories: i) direct incorporation into manufactured products such as composites, concrete or asphalt; ii) incineration with energy recovery; iii) emerging chemical recycling technologies such as pyrolysis or gasification. For a detailed review of those technologies, the applicants can refer to ReferencesFootnote 2Footnote 3. Some of those technologies look as promising alternatives for the valorization of ASR. However, several challenges remain such as cost-efficiency and environmental benefits compared to the current landfilling practices.

Overall, this challenge will support domestic action on automotive plastic waste attaining zero plastic waste in Canada.

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) are committed to protecting the environment while supporting businesses and Canadians to transition towards a zero plastic waste future. This challenge is highly relevant to the federal government's commitment to move Canada towards a zero plastic waste economy. Plastics are valuable materials and resources because of their unrivalled functionality, durability and low cost. Plastics are used in almost every aspect of Canadians’ daily lives and provide significant economic, environmental and social benefits. However, some of the ways that plastics are currently used and managed negatively impacts Canadian ecosystems and wildlife, and burdens the economy. Canadians throw away over 3 million tons of plastic waste every year. Only 9% of this waste is recycled while the rest ends up in landfills, waste-to-energy facilities or the environment.

Consequently, the Government of Canada has committed to reducing plastic waste and pollution both within Canada and around the world. At the 2018 G7 in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada launched the Ocean Plastics Charter. This Charter, which has now been endorsed by 25 governments as well as over 60 businesses and organizations worldwide, sets targets and outlines actions to eradicate plastic waste and marine litter. 

The Government of Canada is working with provinces and territories through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) who have launched a Canada-wide Strategy for Zero Plastic Waste and adopted the first phase of an Action Plan to drive concrete actions across the country (https://www.ccme.ca/en/current_priorities/waste/waste/strategy-on-zero-plastic-waste.html). This plan will focus government efforts across a broad range of activities including green procurement and single use plastics.

Maximum grant value

Multiple grants could result from this Challenge.

Funding of up to $150,000.00 CAD for up to 6 months could be available for any Phase 1 grant resulting from this Challenge.

Estimated number of Phase 1 grants to be awarded: 2

Funding of up to $1,000,000.00 CAD for up to 2 years could be available for any Phase 2 grant resulting from this Challenge. Only eligible businesses that received Phase 1 funding could be considered for Phase 2.

Estimated number of Phase 2 grants to be awarded: 1

This disclosure is made in good faith and does not commit Canada to award any grant for the total approximate funding. Final decisions on the number of Phase 1 and Phase 2 awards will be made by Canada on the basis of factors such as evaluation results, departmental priorities and availability of funds.

Travel:

  • Project kick-off meeting at NRC-Boucherville facilities.
  • Final project review meeting at NRC-Boucherville facilities

Eligibility

Solution proposals can only be submitted by a small business that meets all of the following criteria:

  • for profit
  • incorporated in Canada (federally or provincially)
  • 499 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employeesFootnote *
  • research and development activities that take place in Canada
  • 50% or more of its annual wages, salaries and fees are currently paid to employees and contractors who spend the majority of their time working in CanadaFootnote *
  • 50% or more of its FTE employees have Canada as their ordinary place of workFootnote *
  • 50% or more of its senior executives (Vice President and above) have Canada as their principal residenceFootnote *

Evaluation Criteria

The applicant must complete the Challenge Stream Electronic Submission Form with a degree of information sufficient to enable Canada's assessment of the proposal against the criteria and the Evaluation Schema. The information must demonstrate how the proposal meets the criterion.

Part 1: Mandatory Criteria

Proposals must meet all mandatory criteria identified by achieving a "Pass" in order to proceed to Part 2. Proposals that do not meet all mandatory criteria will be deemed non-responsive and given no further consideration.

Mandatory Criteria

(Applicant's proposal must address)

Question 1 a: Scope

Describe the proposed solution and demonstrate how it responds to the challenge. Include in your description the scientific and technological basis upon which the solution is proposed and clearly demonstrate how the solution meets all of the Essential (Mandatory) Outcomes (if identified) in the Desired Outcomes section in the Challenge Notice.

Evaluation Schema (Mandatory - Pass/Fail)

Pass

The Applicant's proposed solution is clearly articulated, within the scope for the challenge and addresses all Essential (Mandatory) Outcomes (if identified) in the Challenge Notice.

Fail

The proposed solution is articulated as out of scope for the challenge.
OR
The proposal does not clearly demonstrate how the proposed solution addresses all Essential Outcomes listed in the challenge.
OR
The proposed solution is poorly described and does not permit concrete analysis.
OR
There is little to no scientific and/or technological evidence that the proposed solution is likely to meet the challenge.

Question 2: Current Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
  • Indicate the current TRL of the proposed solution. (Drop Down Menu of the Challenge Stream Electronic Submission Form)
  • Describe the research and development activities that have taken place to bring the proposed solution to the stated TRL.
Evaluation Schema (Mandatory - Pass/Fail)

Pass: The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution is currently between TRLs 1 and 6 (inclusive), and provided justification by explaining the research and development (R&D) that has taken place to bring the solution to the stated TRL.

Fail: The Applicant has not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the current TRL is between 1 to 6 (inclusive) including:

  • There is insufficient/no evidence provided for TRL judgment.
  • The solution involves the development of basic or fundamental research.
  • The solution is demonstrated at TRL 7 or higher.
  • Insufficient/unclear/no justification explaining the R&D that took place to bring the solution to the stated TRL.
  • The explanation simply paraphrases the description of a given TRL level.
Question 3a: Innovation

Demonstrate how the proposed solution meets one or more of the ISC definitions of innovation below:

  • An inventionFootnote *, new technology or new process that is not currently available in the marketplace.
  • Significant modifications to the application of existing technologies/components/processes that are applied in a setting or condition for which current applications are not possible or feasible.
  • An improvement in functionality, cost or performance over an existing technology/process that is considered state-of-the-art or the current industry best practice.
Evaluation Schema (Mandatory – Pass/Fail)

Pass:

The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution meets one or more of the ISC definitions of innovation.

Fail:

  • Applicant has not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the proposed solution meets any of the ISC definitions of innovation; OR
  • Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution is an incremental improvement, "good engineering", or a technology that would go ahead in the normal course of product development (i.e. the next version or release).
Question 3b: Advance on State of the Art

Describe in detail the competitive advantages and level of advancement over existing technologies. Where appropriate, name existing technologies as well as potential substitutes or competitors.

To demonstrate this, proposals should include the following information:

  • Improvements (minor or major) over existing technologies or substitutes. Use direct comparison.
  • How the proposed innovation will create competitive advantages in existing market niches or market spaces.
Evaluation Schema (Mandatory Criteria – Pass/Fail + Points)

0 points/Fail:

  • The Applicant has not demonstrated that the proposed solution advances the state-of-the-art over existing technologies, including available competing solutions; OR
  • The proposed solution improves minimally upon the current state of the art, though not sufficiently enough to create competitive advantages in existing market niches; OR
  • The stated advancements are described in general terms but are not substantiated with specific, measurable evidence.

5 points/Pass:

  • The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution offers one or two minor improvements to existing technologies, including available competing solutions, that have potential to create competitive advantages in existing market niches.

12 points/Pass:

  • The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution offers three or more minor improvements to existing technologies, including available competing solutions, that together are likely to create competitive advantages in existing market niches; OR
  • The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution offers one significant improvement to existing technologies that is likely to create competitive advantages in existing market niches

20 points/Pass:

  • The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution offers two or more significant improvements to existing technologies, including available competing solutions that are likely to create competitive advantages in existing market niches and could define new market spaces; OR
  • The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution can be considered a new benchmark of state of the art that is clearly ahead of competitors and that is likely to define new market spaces

Part 2: Point-Rated Criteria

Proposals must meet the overall minimum pass mark of 50% to be deemed responsive. Proposals that do not achieve the minimum pass mark will be declared non-responsive and given no further consideration.

Point-Rated Criteria

(Applicant's proposal to address)

Question 1b: Scope

Demonstrate the scientific and technological basis of how the proposed solution addresses the Additional Outcomes (if identified) in the Desired Outcomes section in the Challenge Notice. If no Additional Outcomes are identified in the Challenge Notice, text entered in this section will not be considered.

If no Additional Outcomes are identified in the Challenge Notice, Applicants will receive 10 points.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the solution will address any of the Additional Outcomes. 0 points
  2. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the solution will address some (<50%) of the Additional Outcomes. 3 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the solution will address most (50% or more) of the Additional Outcomes. 6 points
  4. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the solution will address all (100%) of the Additional Outcomes. 10 points
Question 4: Phase 1 Science and Technology (S&T) Risks

Describe potential scientific and/or technological risks to the successful development of the proof of feasibility and how they will be mitigated in Phase 1.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the Applicant has considered potential risks and mitigation strategies and/or information provided contains significant gaps. 0 points
  2. Information provided demonstrates that the Applicant has considered some potential risks and associated mitigation strategies but there are minor gaps in risks and/or associated mitigation strategies. 5 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the Applicant has sufficiently considered the risks and defined associated mitigation strategies. 10 points
Question 5: Phase 1 Project Plan

Demonstrate a feasible Phase 1 project plan by completing the table.

  • Indicate if any milestones and activities will be completed concurrently
  • Indicate the estimated exit TRL at the completion of Phase 1. (Drop Down Menu of the Challenge Stream Electronic Submission Form)
Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate a feasible project plan for Phase 1 and/or the project plan exceeds the maximum duration indicated in the Challenge Notice. 0 points
  2. Project plan for Phase 1 is conceivably feasible but not clearly demonstrated and/or includes gaps. 10 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates a feasible project plan for Phase 1. 20 points
Question 6: Phase 1 Project Risks

Describe potential project risks to the successful development of the proof of feasibility and how they will be mitigated in Phase 1.

Applicants should address the following risks, as applicable:

  • Human Resources
  • Financial
  • Project Management
  • Intellectual Property
  • Other project-related risks

Note to Applicants: S&T risks should not be included in this section. Question 4 addresses S&T risks.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the Applicant has considered potential risks and mitigation strategies and/or information provided contains significant gaps. 0 points
  2. Information provided demonstrates that the Applicant has considered some potential risks and associated mitigation strategies but there are minor gaps in risks and/or associated mitigation strategies. 5 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the Applicant has sufficiently considered the risks and defined associated mitigation strategies. 10 points
Question 7: Phase 1 Implementation Team

Demonstrate how the project implementation team has the required management and technological skill sets and experience to deliver the project plan for Phase 1 by completing the table. A member of the implementation team can have more than one role.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the project team has the required management and technological skill sets and experience to deliver the Phase 1 project plan. 0 points
  2. Information is provided but there are minor gaps in required management and/or technological skill sets and/or experience to deliver the Phase 1 project plan. 10 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the project team has the required management and technological skill sets and experience to deliver the Phase 1 project plan. 20 points
Question 8: Inclusivity

If your business were to receive funding from Innovative Solutions Canada, describe what actions (e.g., recruitment strategy, internships, co-op placements, etc.) might be taken in Phase 1 to support the participation of under-represented groups (e.g., women, youth, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, visible minorities) in the research and development of the proposed solution. Each Applicant in their response to this question must focus only on describing relevant programs, policies, or initiatives that it currently has in place or would put in place to support the R&D effort in Phase 1.

Note: Do not provide any personal information of individuals employed by your company or that of your subcontractors in the response.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. No description and/or concrete examples of actions provided that would be taken to encourage greater participation of under-represented groups. 0 points
  2. A description and concrete examples of actions to encourage greater participation of under-represented groups provided.5 points
Question 9: Phase 1 Financial Proposal

Demonstrate a realistic financial proposal for the Phase 1 project plan by completing the table.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient information provided and/or information provided significantly lack credibility. Does not demonstrate a realistic financial proposal for the Phase 1 project plan. 0 points
  2. Information is provided but some costs lack credibility and/or are unclear for the Phase 1 project plan. 7.5 points
  3. Information provided contains credible elements to clearly demonstrate a realistic financial proposal for the Phase 1 project plan. 15 points
Question 10: Phase 1 Financial Controls, Tracking and Oversight

Describe the financial controls, tracking and oversight that will be used to manage the public funds throughout Phase 1. Applicants should indicate if an individual or firm will be managing the public funds and provide their credentials and/or relevant experience.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate the Applicant's ability to manage public funds in Phase 1. 0 points
  2. Information provided is vague and/or contains gaps. The Applicant has some controls, tracking and/or oversight in place to manage the public funds in Phase 1. 5 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the Applicant has strong financial controls, tracking and oversight to manage public funds in Phase 1. 10 points
Question 11: Phase 2 Overview

Demonstrate a realistic overview for the prototype development plan if selected to participate in Phase 2.

Responses should include:

  • key tasks
  • estimated cost for materials
  • human resources
  • project risks and mitigation strategies

Note: A more detailed proposal will be requested if selected to participate in Phase 2.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the Applicant has contemplated a realistic overview for the Phase 2 prototype development. 0 points
  2. Information provided demonstrates a conceivably realistic overview for Phase 2 prototype development, however there are gaps and/or the strategy is vague. 6 points
  3. Information provided demonstrates that the Applicant has a clear and realistic overview. 12 points
Question 12: Commercialization Approach

Demonstrate a realistic overall commercialization approach/business model that can successfully take the technology/service to market, and how the technology/service will help you develop and sell other products.

Responses should include:

  • Target markets (excluding Government of Canada)
  • Non-ISC funding sources
  • Transition to a commercially-ready product or service
  • Any other indicators of commercial potential and commercial feasibility

Note: A more detailed proposal will be requested if selected to participate in Phase 2.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the proposed solution has commercial potential. 0 points
  2. Some information provided to demonstrate that the proposed solution has commercial potential, however there are gaps in the commercialization approach. 6 points
  3. A realistic commercialization approach is provided that demonstrates that the proposed solution has commercial potential. 12 points
Question 13: Resulting Benefits to Canada

Describe the benefits that could result from the commercialization of the proposed solution. Applicants should consider the potential benefits using the following three categories and provide justification for each claim:

  • Innovation Benefits: Expected contribution towards the enhancement or development of new industrial or technological innovations within your firm. Responses could include: potential spillover benefits, creation of intellectual property, impact on productivity of the new technology, etc.
  • Economic Benefits: Forecasted impact on the growth of Canadian firms, clusters and supply chains, as well as its expected benefits for Canada's workforce. Responses could include: number of jobs created, number of high-paying jobs, investment in Canada's economy, etc.
  • Public Benefits: Expected contribution to the broader public to the degree that the solution is expected to generate social, environmental, health, security or other benefits to Canada. Responses could include: solution-related environmental benefits, solution-related accessibility benefits, and solution-related impact on Indigenous communities.
Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Innovation Benefits

    Benefit not identified or insufficient claim of benefit. 0 points

    Benefit has marginal increment or limited justification. 1 point

    Benefit is significant and well justified. 2 points

  2. Economic Benefits

    Benefit not identified or insufficient claim of benefit. 0 points

    Benefit has marginal increment or limited justification. 1 point

    Benefit is significant and well justified. 2 points

  3. Public Benefits.

    Benefit not identified or insufficient claim of benefit. 0 points

    Benefit has marginal increment or limited justification. 1 point

    Benefit is significant and well justified. 2 points

Questions and answers

All incoming questions regarding this specific challenge should be addressed to solutions@canada.ca.

All enquiries must be submitted in writing no later than ten calendar days before the Challenge Notice closing date. Enquiries received after that time may not be answered.

You can also consult the Frequently asked questions about the Innovative Solutions Canada Program.

glossary is also available.

In Phase 1 essential outcome #5, it states that the system enables the conversion of at least 40% of ELV's plastics into valuable materials. Is this 40% of the plastic that is being recycled or 40% of the plastic material that is part of a vehicle?

It is 40% of the plastics contained in the end-of-life vehicles. This comes back to 40% of the plastics in a vehicle, or to 40% of the plastics in the ASR (as all automotive plastics currently end up in the ASR).

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