DEARBORN, Mich. (July 18, 2011) — Ford Motor Co. is using recycled tires, carpet and blue jeans in an effort to reduce the environmental footprint of its new vehicles.
According to an Environmental News Service (ENS) report, the Dearborn-based car maker and supplier Recycled Polymeric Materials (RPM) have found a way to give discarded tires new life as environmentally-friendly seals and gaskets for Ford vehicles.
“When it comes to finding a way to use more renewable and recyclable content in our vehicles, Ford and our suppliers are looking at every part of a vehicle,” said Dr. Cynthia Flanigan, technical leader, research and innovation. “As long as an application makes sense and upholds strict quality standards, we'll look to get these sustainable materials inside our vehicles.”
The vehicle gaskets and seals are derived from 25 percent post-consumer particulate from recycled tires and 17 percent bio-renewable content from soy.
In total, Ford said more than 2.2 million pounds of rubber from recycled tires has been made into RPM seals and gaskets and more than 210,000 used tires have been recycled. Some 150,000 pounds of soy has been used to create seal and gasket materials.
Ford's “reduce, reuse and recycle” commitment is part of the company's broader global sustainability strategy to reduce its environmental footprint while accelerating the development of advanced, fuel-efficient vehicle technologies.
The company has undertaken efforts to increase, in the last several years, the use of recycled plastics and bio-based materials—provided the materials are environmentally favorable and meet Ford's durability and performance requirements.
It has used soy foam seat cushions, wheat straw-filled plastic, recycled resins for underbody systems, recycled yarns on seat covers, post-consumer cotton from blue jeans made into interior padding and natural-fiber plastic for interior components.
“Our team continues to develop new technologies that reduce our environmental footprint,” said Dr. Debbie Mielewski, technical leader, plastics. “We have already been successful in incorporating soy foam seats on all North American vehicles and are actively expanding the research front into a variety of new plastics and rubber areas.”
On some models, Ford is using cylinder head covers—manufactured by Dana Holding Corp.—that are made of a nylon resin from Wellman Engineering Resins from 100-percent recycled carpet, according to the ENS report.
Last year Ford claimed its use of Wellman's nylon resin EcoLon saved more than 4.1 million pounds of carpet from landfills and reduced oil consumption by more than 10,238 barrels of oil.
The cylinder head covers are used on the 3.0-liter Duratec engine in Ford Fusion and Escape. They can also be found on the 5.0-liter engine, which powers Ford's Mustang and F-150 models.
Ford said about 85 percent of the materials used on its vehicles by weight are recyclable, and 95 percent of all vehicles retired from use each year are processed for recycling.