DEARBORN, Mich. (July 6, 2001)— Ford Motor Co. will recycle every tire it collects from its recent recall under a comprehensive recovery plan.
The auto maker notified its 4,500 U.S. Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealerships of the plan last month. Recovery Technologies Group will collect and recycle each of the Firestone Wilderness AT tires the dealerships replace under the recall.
The Guttenberg, N.J., tire recycler will process about half of the 13 million tires Ford recalled, said Andy Acho, Ford's worldwide director of environmental outreach and strategy. Ford expects half of those affected by the voluntary recall to return their tires to Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealerships. The other half will replace their tires at tire dealerships, which will handle the disposal of tires and bill Ford.
“I think they want to utilize this opportunity to do something positive with the lemons that have been presented them,” said John R. Serumgard, chairman of the Scrap Tire Management Council in Washington. “It's not going to be easy. It never is.”
In May, Ford decided to replace the tires due to concerns about tread separation. The recall is twice as large as Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s recall of 6.5 million tires which began last summer and is now almost completed. Ford's could take twice as long, Mr. Acho said. The car maker is spending $3.2 billion—mostly on replacement—to recycle and replace the tires. The company wasn't able to break down how much it will have to spend to recycle the tires.
Every tire returned to Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealerships will be recycled, Mr. Acho said. Ford doesn't expect Recovery Technologies Group to use any of the recalled tires as tire-derived fuel.
“That's a heck of a commitment, saying that none of them are going to go into the landfills,” Mr. Acho said.
Recovery Technologies Group will use a cryogenic process to turn the tires into crumb rubber. The crumb rubber is recycled in several ways, including into asphalt, rubber playground mats, sports arena flooring and other products. Ford also is looking at additional applications within its own company, including anti-fatigue floor mats in its plants.
“Ford is taking a leadership role in creating large new markets for this recycled tire material,” said Martin Sergi, president of Recovery Technologies Group. “Ford understands the importance of developing what we call 'economic recycling.´"
Bridgestone/Firestone is not involved in Ford's recall program, a spokesman for the tire maker said.
Mr. Truini writes for Waste News, a sister publication of Tire Business.