If you've ever wondered what happens to those old auto parts that are no longer useful, Ford has a program called the "Core Recovery Progam" which takes the old and recycles it back into new again. Recovering over 120,000,000 pounds of wasted automotive parts since the program started in 2003, Ford is a taking the initiative to go completely green beyond obvious means.
How much is 120,000,000 pounds of waste?
- 5.6 million garbage bags, enough to fill a stadium
- 5,000 school buses
- Six days worth of trash generated by NYC
The Core Recovery Program oversees collection, remanufacturing and recycling of damaged auto parts – everything from small sensors and fuel injectors to large engine parts – from Ford vehicles that have been repaired through the company’s dealer network.
“Most parts that come back to us through the program still have a lot of life left,” says Kim Goering, manager of Ford’s remanufacturing and recycling programs. “That makes a strong business case to do whatever we can to extend the life of these components. Even more important, however, is that Ford strongly believes it’s just the right thing to do from an environmental perspective.”
Recycled auto parts play a big role in Ford's latest lineup, as well as renewable sources of alternative production materials. For example, did you know that Ford uses recycled jeans, old pop bottles, and other common forms of waste for production materials? Surprisingly enough, 85% of each new Ford vehicle built today is recyclable and designed to work hand in hand with the Core Recovery Program.
Take for example plastic materials. Plastic has a unique ability to be melted back down and reformed into any desired shape. Old plastic bumpers are now collected and sent to a third party where they are processed into pellets. These pellets can be used to make brand-new products such as more bumpers, interior components, and more. Since 2010, about 62,000 bumpers have been recycled through the Core Recovery Program instead of filling our landfills.
“These bumpers are typically between five and six feet long and can yield as much as 20 pounds of material after they have been processed,” said Goering. “That adds up fast and makes it pretty easy to see how much of an impact the program makes – and that’s with just one category.”
- 62,000 bumpers * 20 lbs. each = 1,240,000 pounds of waste
- 62,000 bumpers * 12 cubic ft. each = 744,000 cubic feet of waste
Imagine if all of those bumpers had been placed in a landfill, how much volume they would take up? The math is done above, and that equals a lot of garbage. Thanks to Ford's extremely green recycled automotive parts program, that trash isn't filling our landfills; it is being renewed into useable parts!
So how do they do it? It is quite simple really and it all starts at the dealership. Dealers pay a core charge on each new part bought from Ford to replace a damaged one. When the original damaged part is returned to Ford, the dealer gets the money from the core charge back – operating exactly like bottle return systems do in some parts of the United States.
To collect the damaged and broken parts from dealers, Ford works with distributors strategically located around the country, such as RMP Powertrain Solutions of Brownstown Township, Mich. The 35,000-square-foot center serves as the central collection point for Ford dealers in Southeast Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Ford uses a proprietary system involving bar codes and scanners to keep track of every single part collected. Once collected, each part is evaluated for either recycling or remanufacturing potential. Parts recycled are sent to third-party processors and the raw material is resold.
“As the vehicle population grows, so does our business,” she says. “We are always considering the business case for different products, which is quite a task when you think about the sheer quantity and complexity of the parts going into today’s vehicles.”
RMP’s Rick Rutenbar, warehouse manager, says he hopes to be part of the program’s continued evolution.
“We have definitely seen an increase in the amount of parts we are picking up,” he says. “We’ve had to hire additional workers and add more hours to adjust to the rapid growth in the number of parts we are picking up.”
So as you can see, when a Ford part decides it is time to go bad, it actually serves a higher purpose and is recycled back into the chain of automotive life. This reminds me of a quick song that I think you will find quite entertaining.
"Where do the bad parts go when they die? They don't go to landfills and make the green folks cry. They go to Ford and get recycled back to life. See them again on a production line!"