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New Cars Increasingly Composed of Recycled Materials

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We all know recycling is good for the planet. Melting down old soda bottles to make new ones reduces what goes into landfills and the amount of oil used to make many plastics. What may surprise you is that your old Coke bottle may be a part of your new car. 

According to the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers, 9 percent of all recycled milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles and other high-density polyethylenes ended up in cars in 2008. 

Those recycled jugs and bottles can be used for the plastic wheel-arch liners and battery trays in cars. Not incidentally, the Ford Focus uses 100% recycled material for these components, according to Debbie Mielewski, technical leader of plastics research at the automaker. GM uses recycled materials to make some sound-deadening materials for the Buick LaCrosse and the door-handle brackets and engine fan components on other GM vehicles. 

These recycled materials can even be used to make the soft fabric-like materials inside your automobile, including the suede-looking fabrics, which is composed of plastic yarn made from old soda bottles, in the new Ford Taurus SHO and Lincoln MKZ. 

Using recycled scrap material can even be more eco-friendly than using bio-materials, which come from organic substances, such as the soy oil Ford uses in the Escape and Mustang to build its seat cushions, seatbacks and headliners. 

There are still challenges with using recycled materials. Mielewski said Ford hasn’t figured out a way to remove the milk odor from old milk jugs, so recycled plastic made from milk jugs can’t be used in the interior. 

GM estimates that 5 to 10% of the plastics used in its vehicles are recycled, while Ford claims to have recycled 25 to 30 million pounds of plastic that would otherwise have ended up in landfills for 2008. 

Your Next Car Is Filled With Trash (Translogic)

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