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Ford Accelerates Recycled Content Program

Ford Accelerates Recycled Content Program

The 2012 Ford Focus, on sale early next year in North America and Europe, uses cotton from recycled clothing for carpet backing and sound-absorption applications.

"Ford is continually looking for greener alternatives," says Carrie Majeske, product sustainability manager. "One of our key goals is to use more recycled or renewable materials without compromising performance or durability. Recycled content is a way to divert waste from landfills and reduce the impact of mining virgin material."

Ford is implementing a strategy to broaden use of sustainable materials. "One of the key goals of this strategy is to identify and globally implement materials technologies that improve environmental and social performance and lower costs," the company says in a report.

Two direct engineering impacts are the development of global specifications for sustainable materials and standardization of sustainable materials' use.

One big winner in Ford's new strategy will be increased use of post-consumer recycled plastics and other materials. Ford says cars already start with a high content of recycled materials - 20 to 25 percent - because of the use of steel scrap in mini mills.

This year, Ford specified the use of textile materials using 30 to 40 percent recycled content for rear wheel liners. "These fabric parts are 50 percent lighter than plastic wheel liners and absorb sound, which will enable improved noise vibration and harshness performance while potentially reducing the need for sound-deadening insulators, sprays and foams," Ford says in its report.

The recycled materials resin strategy saved Ford $4 to $5 million in 2009 and diverted between 25 and 30 million lb of plastic from landfills. Use of in-house scrap materials is not counted toward Ford's recycling targets.

Ford is also a leading user of sustainable materials, such as seat foam made from soybeans.

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