General Motors is really building up its green credentials. The Chevy Volt took home the 2010 green car of the year award. Now, the same car might be responsible for contributing to the cleanup of the mess left behind by BP in the massive Gulf Oil spill. It’s quite possible that in both ways, the Chevy Volt is shaping a trend for the future.
Plastic booms made out of polypropylene are an inflatable and floatable containment device for oil spills. Such booms are deployable and are removed from the scene when their utility is over. They are then destined for the landfills. Now, GM has found a use for them in the Chevy Volts. GM will recycle 10,000 pounds of oil-soaked booms from the gulf into parts for the Volt.
The oil soaked polypropylene will be cleaned and recycled into components that can be reused in the car. The will form an auto part that deflects air from the radiator; boom material will make up 25 percent of the part, with 25 percent coming from recycled tires and the rest from post-consumer recycled plastics and other polymers.
John Bradburn, manager of GM’s waste-reduction efforts said –
“This was purely a matter of helping out. If sent to a landfill, these materials would have taken hundreds of years to begin to break down, and we didn’t want to see the spill further impact the environment. We knew we could identify a beneficial reuse of this material given our experience.”
Down the line four different companies are involved in the endeavor. Heritage Environmental collected the booms, Mobile Fluid Recovery dried them, Lucent Polymers turned the material into a resin for die-mold production, and GDC Inc. produced the components.
Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety policy said –
“Creative recycling is one extension of GM’s overall strategy to reduce its environmental impact. We reuse and recycle material by-products at our 76 landfill-free facilities every day. This is a good example of using this expertise and applying it to a greater magnitude.”
GM has turned green with a vengeance. The company recycles 90 percent of its waste. Their cars and trucks are at least 85 percent recyclable, and more than half of its worldwide facilities are landfill-free, plus all manufacturing waste is recycled or used to create energy.
Image: Deepwater Horizon Response