I thought it was pretty cool to find out that Ford Motor Company is converting recycled plastic water bottles and other plastic waste into car seats for the 2012 Ford Focus Electric. I also thought it was cool that each of those car seats keeps 22 16-oz plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles out of the landfill. Now, I think it's even cooler that Ford and Unifi, maker of the Repreve car seat fabric, will collect and recycle bottles from both the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit for use in those car seats.
These collection efforts -- plus some more bottles the carmaker will collect at other venues this year -- will divert a total of 2 million water bottles from landfills, according to the company. All those bottles, along with other post-consumer waste, and post-industrial manufacturing waste such as nylon, will be converted into the Repreve seat fabric.
Ford and Unifi, maker of Repreve, will gather and recycle 2 million plastic bottles at CES and other shows for conversion into the Repreve seat fabric used in the 2012 Focus EV.
Interestingly, Ford's press release states that this effort, aside from producing more seat fabric raw material, is aimed at calling attention to the dismal statistics regarding how few plastic bottles actually get recycled and how many end up in landfills.
"After decades of education, the United States PET bottle recycling rate is only at 29 percent, about half the rate of Europe," said Roger Berrier, president and COO of Unifi, in a press release. "We hope this recycling initiative with Ford will help raise visibility around the importance of recycling with a goal to drive recycling rates to 100 percent, diverting millions of plastic bottles from entering the waste stream and potentially back into Repreve-branded fibers."
Ford's commitment to clean and sustainable materials is to be commended. For instance, it now mandates that its vehicles with eco-friendly powertrains, such as the Focus, contain fabrics that are 100 percent sustainable. And it has given somewhat less stringent mandates to suppliers for its other cars.
Love both the technology advance of deploying recycled plastic bottles for car seats, but also the promotional effort to recycle plastic bottles from events as part a way to draw attention to recycling. Okay, maybe it's good PR and maybe it's only part of the latest corporate trend of customer experience or finally listening to what customers want (thank you social media) and have to say. Whatever the reason, it's a good change Ford is making and other car companies are following suit. So maybe car companies aren't the bad guys after all?
I did not attend the first Earth Day, but I do appreciate helping the environment. Stating the amount of bottles in each seat puts this in a measurement that consumers can associate with. It is great to see a proud American company keeping up with the green initiative.
@Rob-you stole the thought right out of my mind, that sourcing the trash from the CES show was a gimmick that likely cost more energy than it saved.Cool that the fabric is made from re-processed PET, but water bottles are everywhere.Kudus to FORD engineering to target this type of recycling and maintain the economics in the process, but I hope they don't exploit the claim of rescuing all the bottles from the big event shows. To me, the showy Grand-Standing claim kind of takes-away from the excellent accomplishment of the tech advance.
I am not old enough to have been able to attend the first earth day, but I do remember some throughout the 80's. I do remember when water in a bottle was first sold and how many people saw it as a waste of money at first. Something that would never catch on and quickly fade away. But it's still here and people by bottled water by the cases. Not exactly my idea of good use of a limited resource like crude oil, but it is good to see someone capture a few million bottles for recycle.
I don't drink much bottled water and refuse to send my Coke bottles back to Coca-Cola just because they keep increasing the cost and I think sending the bottle back to them just puts more money in there pocket without a price break for me.
Kudos to Ford for even considering using recycled plastic in their cars. The German companies are required to recycle plastics in their vehicles, and no one I know of thinks they make cars of a lesser quality than the US brands.
I agree Tim. It's a small move forward, but it may be the kind of move that jostles other companies the implement similar programs. Plus, it may prompt technology moves that make green initiatives more and more feasible.
Ford is actually one of the first, if not the first, auto company to lay down mandates to its suppliers about recycled content. One thing I'm finding about both bio-based plastics and recycled plastics, at least in engineering-grade plastics, is that in many industries one supplier and/or one OEM has taken the lead. For instance, DuPont was an early plastics maker to begin the shift to bioplastics, and Fujitsu was an early computer OEM to begin the move to same in that industry. In all cases, the alternative material has to meet the required performance specs.
And to repeat myself re shipping bottles across the country, that usually happens anyway to get materials to industrial recycling facilities. The purpose of recycling is not always to save energy: it's to keep plastic out of landfills, the ocean, and bird's stomachs.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
The 100-percent solar-powered Solar Impulse plane flies on a piloted, cross-country flight this summer over the US as a prelude to the longer, round-the-world flight by its successor aircraft planned for 2015.
GE Aviation expects to chop off about 25 percent of the total 3D printing time of metallic production components for its LEAP Turbofan engine, using in-process inspection. That's pretty amazing, considering how slow additive manufacturing (AM) build times usually are.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.