Ford Motor Company's new standards for recycling are aimed at making recycled content a more important element in the design of new Ford vehicles.
'We already are requiring that 75-85 percent of materials in new products be recyclable,' said Tom Scott, Ford director of advanced design. 'Now, we're going further by making sure that recycled materials do not just go for non-performance applications.'
The automaker plans to send letters within two months to its major material and parts suppliers, directing them to increase the amount of recycled material in vehicle components. The letter will be signed by several Ford vice presidents.
The company will set mandated levels requiring that suppliers provide a specific percentage of recycled materials per vehicle weight, said William Orr, Ford manager of worldwide recycling planning. The directive will take effect this autumn on vehicles under development.
Glass, rubber and plastics will be focal points of the guidelines. Most of the approximately 75 percent of a vehicle that is currently recycled comes from metals.
Although Ford did not want to share the recycling targets until suppliers were notified, the automaker is setting tough goals for plastics, Orr said. The emphasis will be on using post-consumer resins.
To date, most recycled parts from plastic use post-industrial waste, or plant scrap that is reused. But the automaker wants suppliers to help create a mechanism to collect and reuse waste from old vehicles.
'That really has the most resonance with consumers,' said Orr. 'That will be our target. It will have the largest effect on landfill reduction.'
In 1993, Ford adopted a position that in order for a part to be considered recycled, it must have at least 25 percent recycled content. However, the company did not mandate that purchases include recycled content.
'We found that, in some cases, we could do a lot better than 25 percent,' Orr said. 'The targets we have in mind are not trivial for plastics.'
The new standard was approved by a cross-departmental Ford team that includes executives from purchasing, design and engineering, materials and program-management groups.
Parts suppliers will be expected to use those materials specified by Ford in future products.
Since 1991, when Ford formed its Recycling Action Teams, or RAT Packs, the automaker has been dedicated to developing recycling programs. For instance, Ford annually uses polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, resin from more than 50 million two-liter plastic soft-drink bottles for some parts.
Orr said that Ford would eventually like to make as much as 90 percent of a vehicle recyclable. Material suppliers already are helping Ford achieve that, he said.
'A few years ago, I would have said that they needed motivation,' Orr said. 'Now, I think they're coming to the party again. We want them to keep doing a good job for us to be successful.'