GM Reuses Gulf Coast Oil Spill Materials for Chevy Volt Parts
The Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, is already a rather green innovation, but GM intends to take the car even further. On December 20, 2010 General Motors announced its plans to re-purpose 100 miles of oil-soaked plastic boom used during the Gulf oil spill for Volt parts. The plastic boom was used to aid absorpition of oil and deter further devastation of the Gulf. 100 miles of boom from Alabama to Louisiana will be reused in "under the hood" parts for GM's Chevy Volt, which was recently awarded Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal.
Mike Robinson, GM's vice president of environment, energy, and safety policy, says "Creative recycling is one extension of GM's overall strategy to reduce its environmental impact." Robinson claims that GM's 76 landfill-free facilities reuse and recycle material byproducts every day.
According to a press release from GM, this ongoing plastic boom project is expected to create enough plastic under hood parts to supply the first year production of the 2011 Chevy Volt, the world's first electric vehicle with extended range. This project is also intended to produce more than 100,000 pounds of plastic resin, which will be used for components of the Volt. What's more, the plastic that will be reused will eliminate an equal amount of plastic that would have otherwise been sent to incinerators or landfills. The parts made from the reused booms will be composed of 25 percent boom, 25 percent recycled tires from GM's Proving Ground vehicle test facility, and 50 percent mixture of post-consumer recycled plastics and other polymers.
John Bradburn, manager of GM's waste reduction efforts says, "This was purely a matter of helping out." Bradburn contends that if these booms were sent to landfills they would take hundreds of years to even begin to decompose. "We didn't want to see the spill further impact the environment," he says. "We knew we could identify a beneficial reuse of this material given our experience."
According to the company, "GM is dedicated to reducing it's waste and pollutants, and recycles materials at every state of the product lifecycle. It uses recycled and renewable materials in its cars and trucks, which are at least 85 percent recyclable. Used tires, old plastic bottles, denim and nylon carpet are all redirected from landfills and reused in select GM vehicles."
Clearly, GM is cleaning up both their rep as well as the devastation of the Gulf. Hopefully other materials used in Gulf Coast efforts can be reused, and more importantly, others companies will follow GM's forward-thinking trend.