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Dandelion Tires; Wires from Soy

Automakers search for natural and recycled alternatives to rubber, plastic, even leather.

by on Jun.07, 2016

A prototype tire from Continental that uses dandelion-based Taraxa Gum instead of a rubber tread.

They may be a nuisance for gardeners, but dandelions can find a place in salads and even can be made into wine. Now, what many consider a noxious weed could find an even more useful application: as a replacement for natural rubber.

German supplier Continental Tire hopes to put the synthetic material, known as taraxa gum, into production “in five to 10 years” as an alternative to conventional rubber tire treads. And industry researchers are developing other natural and recycled alternatives that are replacing wire insulation, plastic panels, carpets and even leather and suede.

Green News Now!

Some of these environmentally friendly substitutes aren’t entirely new, however. Henry Ford was tinkering with soy-based compounds and recycling wood a full century ago. And, like then, researchers find some of these seeming solutions can create unexpected problems of their own.

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Where The Rubber – And Old Blue Jeans – Meet The Road

Ford recycling old clothing for use in new Focus model.

by on Nov.30, 2010

The 2012 Ford Focus will make use of recycled jeans and other materials.

While some folks routinely give old clothes to charity, those worn jeans and torn sweaters are far more likely to end up in the landfill.  But Ford Motor Co. has found yet another, better use for those old bell bottoms.

With the debut of the 2012 Focus, cotton from recycled clothing will be transformed into carpet backing and sound-deadening insulation.  Each car will use the equivalent of about two pairs of classic American jeans, the company says.

“Ford is continually looking for greener alternatives,” notes Carrie Majeske, the automaker’s 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.”

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The use of recycled and non-traditional materials dates back to the days of Henry Ford himself, a strong advocate for the use of soy-based materials – some of which came from the soybean crops grown on his vast land holdings near Ford Motor Co.’s Dearborn, Michigan headquarters.

The maker continues to use soy foams for seating, along with recycled plastics and even re-purposed rubber from tires, for applications ranging from interior panels to pedal covers.

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Sixty Two GM Plants Eliminate Landfill Waste

More than 40% of global operations produce "zero landfill."

by on May.06, 2010

Materials recycled this year include 650,000 tons of metal, 16,600 tons of wood, 21,600 tons of cardboard, and 3,600 tons of plastic.

Sixty-two General Motors Company manufacturing plants have achieved “zero landfill” status by recycling or reusing all normal plant wastes, the Detroit based automaker said today. This means 43% of its global manufacturing facilities no longer send any production waste to landfills.

GM’s goal, announced in 2008, is to convert half of its major manufacturing facilities worldwide into landfill free operations by the end of 2010. To date, GM is now close to delivering on that commitment.

“We’ve been working for quite some time at eliminating waste and developing support systems to recycle or reuse wastes we can’t yet eliminate,” said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety policy. “These plants have taken this process to its highest level. They are leading General Motors and the worldwide manufacturing industry.”

Landfill-free GM plants include 27 facilities in North America, 21 facilities in Asia-Pacific and Latin America, and 14 facilities in Europe.

On average, more than 97% of waste materials from GM’s zero landfill plants are recycled or reused and about 3% is converted to energy at waste-to-energy facilities replacing fossil fuels. More than 2 million tons of waste materials will be recycled or reused at GM plants worldwide this year. An additional 45,000 tons will be converted to energy at waste-to-energy facilities.

Other GM facilities also attain high levels of recycling. Overall, GM’s global facilities currently recycle more than 90% of the waste produced.

GM claims that zero landfill plants and other facilities will prevent more than 3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emission reductions from entering the atmosphere this year. Other environmental benefits include avoiding potential environmental impacts from landfill waste. Additionally, recycling materials to make new products reduces energy use and manufacturing costs, compared to using raw materials.

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