Ford takes recycling to a new level
Plastic Water Bottles and Landfills
One of the most frustrating things for a person who has worked in the power generation industry to hear is plastic water bottles, or some other item “end up in a landfill.” Almost every community recycles with a passion and in many parts of America all of the non-recycled material is used to create electricity in power plants. The huge amount of recycled material available is starting to end up back in the cars we use to take our trash to the transfer station on weekends. Ford is leading the way with creative uses of these materials and finding that this is an excellent hedge against the rising cost of petroleum based plastics.
Ford's Tradition of Unconventional Materials
The idea of using unconventional materials at Ford is not new. Henry Ford is well known to have used soybean based plastics in his cars in the early and mid-1900s. The most recent push to use soybeans came in the last decade and was driven by farmers in the US hoping to find a way to put their bumper crops to good (profitable) use. Ford worked for more than 5 years to develop foams that could be used in such parts of Ford car as seat cushions. The path to success was not an easy one. Dr. Debbie Mielewski, technical leader of Ford’s Materials Research and Innovation team, sums the challenge up this way; “We had to come up with a product that performed as well as or better than the products we had been using for decades… Because Ford has such high standards, it took a long time, but after five years, we were finally able to meet every single requirement – compression, durability, everything.”
Made of Money
A wide range of materials are starting to find their way into Ford vehicles. Plastic bottles are used to create yarn that is used in seating. Recycled carpet is used for, of all things, cylinder head covers. Blue jeans are used for sound deadening material. Wheat straw is used to create storage bins. In an especially novel use of old materials, Ford has started to look closely at using the 10,000 pounds of shredded currency the US produces each day for uses in its cars. This gives “saving money” a whole new meaning.
Ford is committed to using recycled materials in its products and is continuing its long tradition of putting its money where its mouth is.