Volvo’s melting moments
Recycling reaches a whole new level by breathing new life into old trucks
THERE’S something old and something new in every Volvo truck. In fact, the truckmaker estimates that about 30 per cent of the steel used for the trucks it makes in its Swedish factories is recycled.
Volvo has a special division in its Gothenberg headquarters, where workers pull apart old trucks so the parts can either be re-used or recycled.
In general, Western European operators replace their trucks far more often than in Australia so recycling them is a bigger issue there than it is here. When old trucks and cars are retired in Australia, they are usually crushed and the metal components melted down.
The steel is then generally used for other items such as fencing wire and concrete reinforcement. Volvo says that much of the old metal it sends to be recycled actually comes back for use in the new truck.
About 97 per cent of the cast iron and roughly half the steel content used in a new Volvo truck is recycled. The company explains the environmental gains are considerable, given melting down and re-using metal uses considerably less energy than producing the material from scratch.
The company’s Gothenborg recycling workshop manages to dismantle and recycle 30 to 40 trucks a year. In the case of a large truck such as an FH, around nine tonnes of metal are recovered and recycled.
Much of the metal is melted down, several components are sold on as second-hand parts and the remaining elements such as the plastic trim and rubber parts are sent away to be incinerated.
Even better: Volvo says nothing goes into landfill.
Gearboxes and rear axles, are sent to be reconditioned before being sold. But the engines are simply cleaned up and sold on because of the prohibitive cost of rebuilding them. When old trucks arrive at the workshop, technicians pull them apart and often have to use blowtorches to dig out rusted-on bolts. Technician Jimmy Gustavsson said:
We have to fight them a bit but we always win.’’
The cabs are stripped, cleaned and resold as long as they’re less than 10 years old and in good condition.
Waste not, want not: The process will recycle up to 40 old trucks