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Automakers Are Building Your Cars with Interesting Recycled Materials

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People make a big deal about being friendlier to the environment. It’s why we have to limit our plastic bag usage at the grocery store, use less aerosol spray, and it’s why automakers are using more recycled materials in the manufacturing of their vehicles.

Let’s start with the big picture. Manufacturing vehicles is not the most green activity — harmful emissions and a lot of waste are byproducts of the process. As a result, more automakers are pledging to make their plants and HQs landfill-free. General Motors, Ford, Nissan, BMW and Subaru are among the big names that have changed their manufacturing to reduce the amount of waste produced.

But cars have become greener and more eco-friendly, too, and almost every vehicle on the road uses some kind of recycled material or biodegradable content. For example, General Motors collects the water bottles from the Renaissance Center, Warren Technical Center, Orion Assembly, and Flint plants, and converts them into the material used to insulate the sound in the new Equinox. Ford does something similar and also uses recycled nylon for many components found under the hood including air-cleaner housings, engine fans, fan shrouds, HVAC temperature valves, engine covers, cam covers and carbon canisters.

But recycled water bottles are like the tofu of recyclable materials — there are no shortage of applications. The seat fabric in many Ford vehicles, including the Fusion, Focus and F-150, are made using water bottles. In fact, according to Ford, approximately 22 16-ounce plastic water bottles are used to make the seat fabric in a Focus; approximately 39 such bottles are used for seats in the Fusion S and SE; and between 63 and 110 such bottles are used for the F-150, depending on the model. Speaking of tofu, the seat cushion foam is also made from soybeans.
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