End-of-life circulation of PFAS in metal recycling streams: A sustainability-focused review
By Erin E. Bulson, Christina K. Remucal, and Andrea L. Hicks
Res. Cons. and Recycling
May 1, 2023
There is emerging information regarding the flow of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in metal recycling streams, with much unknown concerning the potential associated environmental circulation of PFAS. Automobile shredder residue (ASR), which is typically non-recyclable metal shredder output material, has been identified as a potential PFAS-containing industrial waste product. PFAS concentrations in end-of-life vehicles are anticipated to increase into the future in line with lightweight vehicle design to fight climate change, making it critical to evaluate PFAS in ASR from an environmental sustainability perspective. Our literature review provides a compilation of vehicle recycling PFAS data, including PFAS concentrations for ASR (3 µg/kg (ASR fines) – 5100 µg/kg (ASR coarse fraction)), internal and external metal shredder media, stormwater (130 ng/L – 520 ng/L), groundwater, and worker serum and urine. We also review ASR-derived PFAS data from a lifecycle and material flow analysis perspective, with literature largely focused on plastics in ASR. Available data presented herein indicates that PFAS in ASR will require closer evaluation in relation to human and environmental health, business sustainability objectives, best management practices, and regulatory development.