Ford recycles plastic bottles into vehicle parts

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When we think about plastic waste, we mostly envision itpolluting our planet’s oceans, ortaking up valuable space in landfill sites. However, car manufacturer, Ford, has been repurposing recycled plastic to manufacture vehicle parts since the 1990s.Ford plays a big role in the promotion of environmentally-friendly car parts. One of the ways in which Ford has been doing this is by utilising recycled plastic bottles for the manufacture of underbody shields on all their SUVs and other vehicles.

Plastic bottles turned into vehicle underbody shields

“The underbody shield is a very big part, and for a part that large, should we use solid plastic it would probably weigh three times as much,” says Ford Motor Company design engineer Thomas Sweder.“We try to find the best materials to make our parts from, and in this instance, many environmental benefits are also created,” Sweder adds. The Ford Motor Company makes use of about 1.2 billion recycled plastic bottles annually. This equates to approximately 300 bottles per vehicle.

How recycled plastic become vehicle parts

Plastic bottles that were placed in recycling bins are collected with thousands of others. They are then shredded into tiny pieces and this material is usually sold to suppliers, who turn it into a fibre. This is achieved by melting the plastic pieces and then extruding it.The fibres are then mixed with various different types of filament in a textile process to create a sheet of material. This sheet is then used to create the car parts. As it is so lightweight, recycled plastic is ideal for manufacturing engine shields, underbody shields and front and rear wheel arch liners. These wheel arch liners can help improve vehicle aerodynamics, which in turn improves fuel efficiency.

Using recycled plastic makes technical and economic sense

Sweder said that Ford is among the leaders when it comes to using materials such as this and that they do it because it makes technical and economic sense, as much as it makes sense for the environment. “This material is very well suited for the parts we’re making with it, and it is extremely functional,” he explains.“We encourage South Africans to reduce, reuse and recycle materials in order to create an environment that is sustainable and user-friendly for generations to come,” says the vice president of operations for Ford Motor Company South Africa, Ockert Berry.In South Africa, Ford has implemented comprehensive recycling programs at its local plants in collaboration with its suppliers. These recycling programs have resulted in significant reductions in the amount of waste that ends up in our country’s landfills.___Averda is a leading waste management provider with over 50 years of experience across three continents. Through growth, transformation and engagement, we strive to find new ways of managing waste while protecting the community and environment. ___By pairing international expertise with local insights, we have secured our position as one of South Africa’s most respected providers of waste management and industrial cleaning services. We also operate in the recycling, pipe inspection, CCTV, infrastructure inspection, hydro-demolition, high-pressure water jetting and catalyst handling industries. ___Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for the best tips on recycling and the latest industry news. See our Instagram and YouTube channels for more insights into environmental affairs and our work with local communities.