Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why Ocean Trash is Everyone's Problem

Why Ocean Trash is Everyone's Problem

The Isles of Shoals (above) are common patrolling grounds for the plastic hunters of the Rozalia Project. Photo: Flickr/PHOTOPHANATIC1
Off the eastern coast of the U.S., out from the border between New Hampshire and Maine, the Isles of Shoals rest peacefully in the early morning. Underwater, whales feed, schools of fish flutter by, and yellow, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) clasp old cans, discarded lobster traps and other debris on the ocean floor.
On the American Promise floating overhead, the ship’s crew, who sport accolades including Ivy League degrees, U.S. Coastguard Captain certifications, and a U.S. Sailing Team coach, operate the ROVs using sophisticated imaging systems that allow them to target and remove trash in a non-invasive way. The team from the Rozalia Project has a goal: to remove every, single bit of waste from the ocean that they can through direct action, and to show people what it looks like to see the impact of ocean litter through awareness education.
“We’re connecting people to their underwater world, not the underwater world, not the nameless, faceless ocean they think of,” says Rachael Miller, founder of the Rozalia Project. “Right under anybody’s feet, in any water body, there’s something cool - and probably right next to it, there’s something not cool, like a beer can or a chip bag or somebody’s shoe.”
Named after her great-grandmother, Rozalia Belsky, the Rozalia Project aims to protect the seas that brought Miller’s family to a better life in America almost 90 years ago.

Taking Individual Responsibility

Miller travels around the country with her ROVs, showing everyone from children to yacht club members what their local body of water really looks like, hoping that the reality of the images they see will change behaviors that are trashing the world’s seas, rivers, harbors and lakes.
“I think sometimes the unexpectedness of seeing a cool underwater habitat interrupted by [trash], that is very alarming. We were at one yacht club and showing people the images from the ROV, and someone said ‘Let’s go over to Bob’s boat and see what it looks like.’ His boat was surrounded by forks, plates cups, cans – basically, Bob was busted. I’m willing to bet he hasn’t added anything to the pile since our visit.”
But since there are 13,000 pieces of litter per square kilometer in the world’s oceans, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Miller and her team can’t do it alone.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Different View

Inmates Learn Job Skills Recycling Eyeglasses

Inmates learn to repair broken or otherwise unusable eyewear using a lensometer and other specialized equipment. Photo: Flickr

They might be in prison, but that doesn’t mean inmates are incapable of working and learning. Lions Club is offering Nevada inmates an opportunity to learn skills and do some good while keeping useful eyewear out of landfills.
Prisoners in Las Vegas’ Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Facility are learning skills in how to recycle and refurbish spent eyeglasses, including how to use a lensometer and techniques on how to classify and package eyewear for distribution, according to the Reno

Nevada is the second state to jump on board with the program, right behind six facilities in California.

In exchange for their labor, inmates learn marketable skills that can be valuable once they’re released, potentially ending the cycle of crime and putting a dent in the high unemployment rate of ex-cons, which can range anywhere between 35 and 60 percent depending on the state.

Green jobs may be the opportunity of the future for former felons that are able to seek job training while doing time. Prisons in Virginia train inmates in green heating and ventilation through an in-house vocational program, while the Washington State Department of Corrections collaborates with Evergreen State College to allow inmates to do anything from help breed endangered species to assisting with various research.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chicken guts, pork lard will fuel Mazda's race car

  • Monday, January 28, 2013

    We're Wearing It

    In Britain, McDonald's Taking Lead in Breathing New Life into Old Uniforms

    Eurostar staff members and their shoulder bags using material from old Eurostar uniforms and seat headrests
    When the 2012 Olympic Games open in London this summer, McDonald's 85,000 employees in Britain will be wearing sleek and colorful new uniforms designed by Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway, the husband-and-wife team that created the London fashion label Red or Dead. But here's what's really cool about them: they'll be partly made through a process known as "closed-loop" manufacturing, which means some of the polyester will later be reprocessed into a polymer, respun into yarn and reused to make new McDonald's uniforms.

    McDonald's is the first company to commit to producing the environmentally friendly, closed-loop uniforms for its employees in the country, and they could soon be joined by British power-supplier National Grid and retail chain Marks & Spencer (M&S), which are also considering them for their employees. The common thread linking the three corporations is a small London start-up called Worn Again, which is trying to encourage businesses to use closed-loop manufacturing to stanch the endless stream of disused corporate uniforms flowing into U.K. landfills every year.

    Worn Again chief executive Cyndi Rhoades, an American former music-video director, says the company started out in 2005 as an "upcycling" business, taking old materials and refashioning them into new products. The company's designers, for instance, created fashionable shoulder bags for Eurostar train managers using material from old Eurostar uniforms and seat headrests. For Britain's Royal Mail service, it created shoulder bags made from mail carriers' storm jackets. But upcycling is essentially a one-off opportunity, and Rhoades realized that getting companies involved in closed-loop production could offer a bigger and better solution for cutting waste. "Then textiles can be recycled again and again and again — so long as they're collected," she says.

    Rhoades targeted corporate uniforms because, well, there are a lot of them. In Britain alone, 33.4 million uniforms are purchased each year and less than 5% of them are recycled. Corporate uniforms are also typically made entirely from polyester, which makes the repolymerization process easier. Plus, it's easier to set up a uniform-collection system when it's done within the confines of a single company.

    Around a year ago, Worn Again partnered with Dimensions, Britain's largest corporate-uniform supplier, to develop ways to reduce the number of uniforms that end up in dumps. A short while later, the two companies were asked by McDonald's to help it develop a strategy for recycling its uniforms — the fast-food chain had been throwing them away, but set a goal of having zero waste by 2020. Together, the three launched a pilot program for McDonald's to collect its old uniforms and "downcycle" them, which in the case of textiles usually means shredding them for furniture stuffing. When Rhoades learned that McDonald's wanted to make a new uniform for the Olympics, she had another idea — she convinced the company to try closed-loop production and brought in the Hemingways to do the design. Although it will take years to set up all the supply chains, Rhoades is optimistic the uniform will one day be made entirely through closed-loop production. Meanwhile, Worn Again has also begun working with both National Grid and M&S to set up their own uniform collection and downcycling programs.

    Experts say that a growing number of manufacturers around the world — particularly makers of heavy machinery, automotive parts and electronic devices — are embracing the idea of reusing materials this way. But closed-loop production has thus far not been widely embraced by textile manufacturers, with the exception of the carpet industry (a leader in this area) and outdoor-wear retailer Patagonia, which has begun using it for some of its polyester garments. "Closed-loop production is a big deal, and a very, very important area for the future," says Nabil Nasr, director of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology. What's driving the growth is the realization among manufacturers that there won't be enough raw materials to meet the increasing demand for consumer goods in developing economies in the future. The rising price of oil — one of the main components of polyester — is also sparking interest in the new production method. "That's our business case," Rhoades says.

    Worn Again has only just begun to bring together a network of companies committed to using closed-loop uniforms, but Rhoades is already looking ahead. "The high street is the next big step," she says. "Ultimately, we need to move into the consumer market." Of course, that would require setting up collection systems involving myriad retailers and a huge consumer-education effort. There are also other obstacles, such as the fact that the recycling of natural fibers, as well as blends of natural and synthetic materials, isn't technologically possible at the moment. "That's our holy grail," Rhoades says, "finding ways to close-loop natural fibers." If this comes to pass, it would be good news for fashionistas, who can rid their closets of last season's H&M sweaters — and feel good about saving the planet at the same time.

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

    Company Turns Unsold Goodwill Books into Paper Products

    Company Turns Unsold Goodwill Books into Paper Products

    Goodwill Columbus' unsold book donations are turned into paper towels, toilet paper, tissue and more through Green Marketing LLC. Photo: Flickr

    Thrift shops have long been the environmentally-savvy serial reader’s choice for stumbling upon a hidden gem, but not every book donated is a sold or even in sellable condition.
    Green Marketing LLC decided to bridge the gap between recycling and unused book donations at Goodwill of Columbus, Ohio. Previously, books that could not be sold made their way to the trash, winding up in landfills. The company found a way to turn old, worn out pages into pulp, which can then be turned into consumer goods like paper towels, tissue and toilet paper through sister company

    "I found out they were throwing [these books] right into the dumpster because they don't have a retail value," Kevin Malinowski, a consultant at Green Marketing told Waste Recycling News. "I suggested that they start stockpiling them at the distribution center and once they got a truckload we could come in and pay them by the ton. That way they weren't throwing them away … and they were making money."

    The company hopes to collect around 40,000 pounds of unused books a month, which can then be sold anywhere from $15 to $80 a ton, according to the article.

    Saturday, January 26, 2013

    Super Bowl not the Greenest

    Huge Crowds, Zero Waste at the Phoenix Open

    Scottsdale, golf tournament, zero-waste
    Photo: Jennifer Berry, Earth911
    Written by Michele Grossman, regional manager, Sustainability Services, Waste Management
    This Jan. 28 through Feb. 3, half a million spectators will flock to the TPC of Scottsdale to attend this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, also known as professional golf’s “Greenest Show on Grass.” It will be the tournament’s 78th year, and it’s “greenest” yet.
    When Waste Management first took over as the title sponsor of the Phoenix Open in 2010, they established a precedent for sustainability, recycling and diverting 62 percent of the waste produced that year. In 2012, Waste Management launched its “Zero Waste Challenge” and diverted more than 97 percent of waste generated by the tournament from landfills.
    The 2012 tournament reduced, recovered and recycled a greater percentage of waste than any other major sporting event and was the first-ever major sporting event not to use trash receptacles. Instead, organizers provided only recycling and composting bins to event guests. These recycling, composting and alternative fuel efforts conserved a lot of natural resources and energy, including:
    • 1,149 mature trees
    • 394,310 gallons of water
    • 574,856 kilowatt-hours of electricity
    • 843 cubic yards of landfill airspace
    • 582 metric tons (MTCO2E) of greenhouse gas emissions
    This year, Waste Management plans to continue to strive for zero waste by diverting 100 percent of the waste produced by players, fans and vendors at the tournament from the landfill into recycling and composting facilities.
    You read that right – 100 percent.
    How is it possible that with more than 500,000 spectators generating waste over a week-long tournament there won’t be nearly any waste sent to a landfill? It’s a team effort: Waste Management will be using a variety of sustainability tactics to account for every type of potential waste. Following are a few examples of what’s in store for tournament-goers this year:
    No trash receptacles: Like 2012, there will be no trash receptacles along the course – recycling bins and compost bins only
    Recycling Ambassadors: 1,000 Recycling Ambassadors will educate tournament guests and facilitate proper recycling among tournament guests
    Renewable energy: Since 2011, tournament organizers have purchased 100% renewable energy from the local utility, so everything that’s plugged in is using renewable energy, including all golf carts.
    Vendor education: The WM Sustainability Services team will educate vendors in advance and throughout the tournament to help them comply with sustainable practices.
    Guest education: Videos shown on buses, leaderboards and signage throughout the course will educate tournament guests about recycling and composting best-practices.
    Greywater: Port-o-lets will use greywater; treated waste water from the kitchens and sinks on the course.
    Solar-powered compactors: 60 solar-powered compactors will collect recycling and compost, allowing for fewer pickups from service collectors.
    Compressed Natural Gas trucks: Five Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) trucks will transport recycling and compost from the tournament, reducing emissions.
    Charitable contributions: Through initiatives like the “Going for the Green” contest on the 16th hole and the “Green Out” on Saturday, February 2, Waste Management and the Waste Management Phoenix Open will make charitable contributions to Keep America Beautiful, Keep Phoenix Beautiful and Arizona Forward.
    As in previous years, Waste Management hopes that this tournament not only reduces its own environmental footprint, but that it also serves as an example of sustainable practices for other major sporting events. Maybe someday we’ll see events across the country using only recycling and composting instead of “trash” cans and other impactful sustainability initiatives. For now, we look forward to educating golf fans and making a difference at this year’s Greenest Show on Grass.

    Friday, January 25, 2013

    7 Billion Pounds of Trash

    Can you believe that?  Since 1993 over 7 billion pounds of trash have been disposed of in the Tuscarora Landfill.

    How much of that belonged to you?

    Tuscarora Landfill

    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    Old Gear Becomes Recycled Accessories with Green Guru

    Old Gear Becomes Recycled Accessories with Green Guru

    Green Guru uses old bike tire inner tubes, wetsuits, climbing ropes and tent flys to construct durable, recycled bags and accessories.
    Green Guru Recycled Ruckus Backpack Old Gear Becomes Recycled Accessories with Green Guru
    Green Guru’s Ruckus backpack, made from recycled bike tubes. Photo courtesy of Green Guru.
    Every biker has blown a tube. Every climber has worn out a climbing rope. Every wetsuit eventually needs to be retired. All camping gear has a limited lifespan.
    These outdoorsy accessories come and go as they experience normal wear and tear. But, regardless of their age or use, they are all made of valuable materials. Green Guru recognizes that, and takes worn rubber tubes, old vinyl and rope and makes them into functional pieces like messenger bags, bike accessories, backpacks and wallets.
    Recycled and rebuilt in Boulder, CO, Green Guru’s upcycling program is an interesting one. Consumers can send their old material to Green Guru’s Boulder home base, or they can opt to drop off the materials at a vast network of retail outlets across a dozen U.S. states. Green Guru then gets to work.
    These aren’t your standard, delicate recycled accessories either. Green Guru’s products are made to last, thanks to the durability of the materials used. Some examples:
    • The Ruckus backpack ($139.95), made of recycled inner tubes, an upcycled shoulder harness, recycled PETE, recycled mesh, recycled nylon and metal, is about as sturdy of a backpack as you will find anywhere. A spacious 30 liters in capacity (expandable to 41 liters), the pack holds an incredible amount despite weighing just 3.8 pounds. And, it’s perfect for the commuter on the go: The outer layer is completely stormproof, and the bag is reinforced with straps, pockets and belts for maximum comfort and extra storage.
    • The Cycler messenger bag ($139.95) is made of the same materials that the Ruckus backpack is, but features a fold-over messenger finish. It holds a respectable 27 liters, but weighs in at just 2.1 pounds, making it the ideal bag to strap on before a bike commute. The bag is extra padded for riding, and users have the option to add a cellphone or iPod holster ($27.95) — also made of recycled tubes — on the shoulder strap for extra convenience.
    • Even the Bi-fold wallet ($27.95), constructed of recycled inner tubes and recycled PETE, stretches to fit everything and anything you can jam in it. It is outfitted with four credit card/ID slots and two main compartments for cash and receipts. As Green Guru states, “It looks like leather, but it is far better for our earth.”

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

    Compost and Mulch

    Tom Glasgow: Compost and mulch not created equally

    Tom glasgow
    The easily recognized chunks and splinters of wood indicate this material is not fully composted, and should either be used as a surface-applied mulch, or soil-incorporated months ahead of planting time.
    Tom Glasgow/Contributed photo
    Compost” and “mulch” are familiar words that are often used interchangeably, but really shouldn’t be. Fully stabilized compost makes an excellent soil amendment for garden and landscape soils. On the other hand, wood-based materials that have not had sufficient time to properly age and stabilize can create problems if incorporated into the soil, and are best used as a surface-applied mulch.
    Specialists at N.C. State suggest three ways to evaluate the stability of a supposed compost material. First, put a handful of the material in a plastic bag and seal it for 24 hours. If it does not have an offensive or strongly ammonia-like odor when opened, it is probably stable.
    Secondly, none of the materials in the compost should be identifiable; finished compost will appear and smell like rich, organic earth. This is also the case for animal manures that you might wish to apply to a vegetable garden. And if the manure isn’t fully composted, it should be incorporated into the soil for about 120 days prior to planting, to be on the safe side and to avoid pathogens.
    A third indicator is that if a small pile (about three cubic yards) does not heat more than 20 degrees above the temperature of the surrounding air in 24 hours, it is probably stable. Of course, for this you need a special thermometer designed for use in composting and similar applications.
    There are at least two good reasons to be concerned about the stability of your compost material. First, if the composting process continues there will be a shrinking, or loss of volume. If the material has been widely incorporated into a permanent landscape planting, the shrinking and settling could affect the depth and orientation of your new trees or shrubs.
    Secondly, incorporation of unfinished or “unstabilized” organic matter can result in problems such as a significant reduction of soil nitrogen, thanks to the greedy microbes involved in the composting process. This can lead to serious and highly visible nutritional deficiencies in the plants grown on that site.   
    For example, I remember visiting a flower trial at a public garden several years ago, where all the plantings were stunted and off color. The cause was the uniform incorporation of a wood-based compost material that was assumed to be finished, but wasn’t.
    One way to avoid problems in your landscape or garden is to stockpile any wood-based product that you pick up or have delivered, perhaps for a period of a year or so, before using it as a soil amendment. Be sure to turn it regularly during that time to encourage further composting.
    Another option is to till it in or dig it in well ahead of planting. For example, now is an excellent time to amend vegetable garden soils where you plan to start summer vegetables later this spring. The head start will make a big difference in avoiding nutritional deficiencies, and especially factoring in as-needed side dressing during the growing season, you should be able to avoid any significant problems.

    Tom Glasgow is the Craven County Extension director. Contact him at

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    Are You a Precycler?

    Waste Less, Save More by Precycling

    We’ve all heard the familiar phrase; 'reduce, reuse, recycle.'
    For many of us, recycling is a habit to which we have grown accustomed. It makes sense to find ways to reuse and recycle items so that they stay out of landfills and last as long as possible. But what about reducing the amount of waste of which you dispose in the first place?

    Enter 'precycling,' the proactive approach to the 'reduce' portion of our well-known saying.
    According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generated over 250 million tons of waste in 2010. Though recycling trends are on the upswing, there is something to be said for avoiding waste to begin with. While recycling is a crucial piece of the sustainability puzzle, it also requires time, energy and resources. By precycling, you are finding ways to avoid unnecessary waste so that you will be contributing less material that gets recycled or tossed out.

    The precycling perk? It also saves money. Here are some wallet-friendly tips that help eliminate waste from your shopping habits.
    Malt-o-Meal, MOM Foods
    MOM Brands cereals are packaged using 75% less materials than the standard cereal box. Photo: MOM Brands

    Reduced Packaging
    Shopping for products that use less packaging is one of the easiest ways to precycle. Choosing items that have less packaging means less materials were created to begin with, and therefore wasted once the product is opened or used.

    MOM Brands (formerly known as Malt-O-Meal) cereal is well-known for its reduced packaging. While most cereals are packed in plastic bags that are housed by cardboard boxes, MOM Brands has bagged the box and opted for lower waste, lower cost packaging.
    Consider this: Should We Bag the Cereal Box?

    “We have a responsibility to find ways to lessen our impact,” says Linda Fisher, Corporate Communications Manager for MOM Brands. “And the most important first step in that process is to focus on reduction, which we do by producing our cereal in a bag only and skipping the box.”

    MOM Brands’ bag-only approach uses about 75 percent less packaging than boxed cereal makers, and has saved 156 million pounds of paperboard since 2001, according to the company. As a result, they see significant savings in cost, energy and resources. That savings translates into savings their customers can see, as well.

    “It all comes down to being efficient,” says Fisher. “To finding ways to do what you can with less and to find ways to reduce what you use — which will not only impact the environment, but will save you money. It is a better way to do business in the long run. We’ve saved families more than $1 billion since 2005.”

    Because the bags still need to be reused or recycled, MOM Brands has joined with Terracycle to help encourage proper end of life treatment for their product packaging. However, by eliminating the cardboard from the waste stream altogether, they have created a win-win for precyclers looking for low waste, low cost options.

    Monday, January 21, 2013

    Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Schedule

    Our Administrative offices will be closed today, January 21 for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.  The Tuscarora Landfill, Newport Transfer Station and Grantsboro Transfer Station will operate on their regular schedules.

    Friday, January 18, 2013

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Hours

      Our Administrative offices will be closed Monday, January 21 for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.  The Tuscarora Landfill, Newport Transfer Station and Grantsboro Transfer Station will operate on their regular schedules.

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    Worms Around Planes

    Airport Using Worms to Help Reduce Waste

    Worm composting
    Charlotte Douglas International in North Carolina is the first airport in the United States, and maybe the world, to use vermicomposting to help manage airport waste. Photo: Flickr/Sustainable sanitation

    One of the nation’s busiest airports is taking a new approach to managing the half a pound of garbage that the average traveler generates per visit.

    The Charlotte (N.C.) Douglas International Airport has installed a vermicomposting system at its recycling center that is home to about 1.9 million red wiggler worms, reports NPR.

    The worms devour food scraps and other organic waste from airport restaurants and planes, then excrete "castings" that can be used as nutrient-rich fertilizer. The airport plans to use the castings to fertilize its 6,000-acre grounds.

    Before the worms are put to work, the organic waste is heated inside a giant rotating drum for three days at temperatures between 130 to 160 degrees. This kills microbes and starts the composting process. Then the waste is fed to the worms inside a 50-foot-long composting bin. One pound of worms can eat a half pound of food daily.

    The worms were shipped in from Georgia in August 2012 as part of a test operation at the airport’s $1.1 million recycling center, according to the Charlotte Observer. In addition to the worm composting program, the facility sorts all the airport’s trash and recycles aluminum, plastic and cardboard.

    Since opening three years ago, the recycling center has reduced the amount of trash the airport sends to landfills by roughly 70 percent.

    "Garbage is getting very expensive," Aviation Director Jerry Orr told the Charlotte Observer. Orr said the cost of operating the recycling center is about $425,000 a year. The airport used to spend $900,000 a year to haul away its trash.

    Airport officials hope the recycling center will recoup its costs and become profitable within five years.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

    New Pens Made from Recycled Expanded Polystyrene

    New Pens Made from Recycled Expanded Polystyrene

    The recycled EPS plastic material in each of Weisenbach Recycled Products' PS stick pen barrel is equivalent to one standard foam cup.

    Expanded polystyrene, or foam plastic, has long been a difficult good to recycle, but Weisenbach Recycled Products has found a way to turn post-consumer plastic waste into a functional and creative product.

    Their recycled P.S. stick pen is now commercially available .

    "About three years ago, we started talking with the recycling folks at Dart Container... They were stepping up their operations to collect and process more post-consumer foam plastics — all expanded polystyrene foam plastics — not just their used foam cups," says Dan Weisenbach, president of Weisenbach Recycled Products.

    "Dart seemed to take on the challenge of extended producer responsible for the entire foam products industry, even providing the solution and taking in their competitors’ products for recycling.  As much as I was impressed by their enthusiasm, I was also struck by the challenge of what to do with all the recycled plastic resin they were recovering. At the time, it wasn’t possible to go back into food service products, indeed that may still be the case."
    Read more: What is a Producer's Responsibility?

    With what seemed like few options, Weisenbach and his company started experimenting. First, they tried injection molding the recycled polystyrene to make office products and household items. While that had limited success, they found the most success with extruding a 50/50 blend of virgin material and the recycled plastic as a hollow tube. According to Weisenbach, the hollow tubes "came out with a smooth, consistent surface, took paint well and we were able to print highly detailed text and graphics around the circumference," making the perfect foundation for a pen.

    Customers must purchase at least 250 of them, like many wholesale products, but P.S. pens include a custom print  of a logo or message along with the tagline: "This pen is made of 50% post-consumer recycled foam plastic."

    Weisenbach Recycled Products certainly isn't stopping at pens. "Our goal as a company is to produce useful products from recycled materials. We actually seek discarded items and commodities which don’t already have viable solutions once recovered from the waste stream," Weisenbach says.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

    10 Years In, Ford's Recycling Program has Diverted 120 Million Pounds of Car Parts

    car part recycling,
    Ford's Core Recovery Program diverts various car parts from landfills. Photo: Ford
    This year marks a decade since Ford Motor Co. started an aggressive recycling program to prevent waste from entering landfills. Dubbed the Core Recovery Program, the initiative covers the collection, refurbishing and reprocessing of parts from vehicles that Ford’s dealers across the United State have collected over time from car owners.
    As is the case with its competitors, Ford has recycled and remanufactured various auto parts for decades. Metals including steel, in fact, are one reason why cars have a relatively high recycling rate at the end of their life cycles.
    But in 2003, as the automobile industry became even more competitive, Ford’s managers saw the need to have a more aggressive and sophisticated recycling program. Moving beyond salvaging steel from its automobiles, Ford’s Core Recovery Program seeks to recycle or refurbish everything from tiny sensors to the engines from its large pickup trucks.
    In addition, since car parts became more complicated and expensive in recent years, the different collection methods Ford had used reached the point where they became obsolete.
    A few years ago, a damaged bumper or headlight would have automatically been ticketed for the dumpster and therefore the local landfill. But in addition to damaged parts such as fuel injectors and windshield wiper motors, those same bumpers and headlights are now gathered and either refurbished or instead dismantled and then recycled. Two years after they were added to Ford’s list, over 62,000 bumpers have been salvaged while 26,000 headlights were recycled.
    Those parts are just a small part of Ford’s recycling initiative: the company estimates it has diverted 120 million pounds from landfills in the 9-plus years since the company launched what Mark Trombetta, manager of Ford’s Core Recovery Center network, calls a “one stop shopping process” to make recycling more seamless for everyone within the company’s operations.
    Related: Ford Makes Car Parts Out of Old Currency
    The removal and recycling of headlights is just one example of how Ford’s car parts have changed. A generation ago, headlights were relatively simple: but now glass, plastic and the fasteners needed to allow those lamps to shine are joined by more expensive resins and new wiring systems. Furthermore, headlight systems are now often two feet wide and are an integral part of Ford’s vehicles and, hence, are more difficult to remove and recycle.
    Ford continually harvests old bumpers as part of its newly evolved recycling program. The company collects the bumpers, which are five to six feet long, and sends them to a vendor where they are broken down into pellets. With each bumper weighing about 20 pounds, Ford can reduce the amount of virgin materials the company requires for new parts. In addition to bumpers, Ford also recycles underbody shields, battery trays and carpets.
    Ford’s recycling program partnership with its dealers works like the bottle return systems of yesterday. Dealers pay a core charge on each new part they purchase from Ford to replace damaged ones. When a dealer returns the original damaged part to Ford, that same dealer then receives the core charge back as a refund. Meanwhile, a system of bar codes and scanners keeps tracks of the various Ford parts as they move across the U.S. Ford partners with several distributors across the country that act as clearinghouses for all of Ford’s damaged parts, large and small.
    For Ford, not only does the company reduce waste and improve its environmental credentials, but the improvement in recycling efforts has proven to be a money generator. The program has grown so quickly in recent years that Ford has had to hire more workers and work them more hours in order to not fall behind. Recycling, once seen as an annoyance and cost center by automakers, is now emerging as part and parcel of car manufacturers’ strategy as raw materials become more expensive.

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