News Brief

GM's Christmas Present To The Earth

This is definitely new in the world of recycling: automakers -- particularly Ford -- use various green-sourced components for their vehicles, but Chevrolet is taking a new direction: The company says it is using parts of those oil-soaked plastic booms from the Gulf of Mexico spill for auto components in the Chevrolet Volt. Talk about polarizing: that is likely to inspire some Volt buyers to make the purchase on conscience, and other more jaded folks to scratch their heads or write it off as a stunt.

In any case, the company says it has developed a method to convert some 100 miles of the boom used in the Gulf for under-hood plastic parts. The company says the material, which would otherwise end up in landfills, will supply the first year Volt production. "Creative recycling is one extension of GM's overall strategy to reduce its environmental impact," said Mike Robinson, GM VP of Environment, Energy and Safety policy at the company, in a statement. "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."

The company said the booms would constitute 100,000 pounds of plastic resin for the vehicle components, eliminating an equal amount of waste that would otherwise have been incinerated or sent to landfills.

The parts, which deflect air around the vehicle's radiator, are comprised of 25 percent boom material and 25 percent recycled tires from GM's Milford Proving Ground vehicle test facility. The remainder is a mixture of post-consumer recycled plastics and other polymers. Chevrolet says enough material will be gathered to be used as components in other Chevrolet models.

"This was purely a matter of helping out," said John Bradburn, manager of GM's waste-reduction efforts. "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."

The world's first electric vehicle with extended range, Green Car Journal recently awarded the Chevy Volt Green Car of the Year. Right on!

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