Ford Motor Company says it has kept 120 million pounds of used and damaged car parts out of landfills over the past ten years. In 2003, the automaker launched its Core Recovery Program, a nationwide effort to collect parts from dealerships and sort them for recycling or remanufacturing.
The company gave Local 6 an exclusive tour on Wednesday of its regional sorting center in Orlando, where every week trucks drops off about 3,000 parts from area Ford dealers.
The automaker cites several reasons for developing the program: more complex and expensive parts in cars and trucks, a need to get more control over the sale of aftermarket components, and a need to recycle more
"Most parts that come back to us through the program still have a lot of life left,” says Kim Goering, manager of Ford’s remanufacturing and recycling programs. “That makes a strong business case to do whatever we can to extend the life of these components. Even more important, however, is that Ford strongly believes it’s just the right thing to do from an environmental perspective.”
After parts are sorted at the regional centers, the ones designated for remanufacturing are shipped to individual suppliers who rebuild them to Ford’s original equipment specifications. The parts are then sold as original equipment under warranty. The remanufactured parts include:
- Engines (Gas & Diesel )
- Transmissions (Automatic & Manual)
- ABS Modules
- Brake Calipers
- Brake Pedal Assemblies
- Cylinder Heads
- Oil Pumps
- Power Steering Pumps
- Rack & Pinion Gears
- Torque Converters
- Transmission Cases
- Window Lift Motors
- Wiper Motors
- Diesel Components
- Diesel Fuel Injectors
- Fuel Injection Pumps
- Flex Fuel Modules
Parts designated for recycling include:
- Aluminum Wheels
- Fascias - Front and Rear
- Headlamp Assemblies
- Diesel Particulate Filters
Bumpers are collected and sent to a third party where they are processed into pellets that can then be used to make brand-new products including products that have nothing to do with automobiles.
“We’ll bring a bumper in, and it will be ground up and used for playground safety material,” says Rick Brisson, Regional Sales and Service Manager for Ford.
Brisson says the headlamp assemblies are a new addition to the recycling program.
“Ford found a way to recycle them,” he says. “What we’ll do is strip it down. Just like a fender, it will be broken down in its raw form, and then go through the molding process once again, and we’ll turn it into a brand new headlamp assembly.”
Dealers pay a core charge on each new part bought from Ford to replace a damaged one. When the original damaged part is returned to Ford, the dealer gets the money from the core charge back – operating exactly like bottle return systems do in some parts of the United States.
The southeast region contributed to the program by keeping more than 1.2 million pounds of damaged vehicle parts from landfills.
“And what that results for customers is a cost savings,” says Brisson. “It’s environmentally responsible, and, quite frankly, it’s the right thing to do.”
Ford’s Core Recovery Program represents a trend in the U.S. auto manufacturing business to address concerns about cost control and sustainability. Chrysler says it remanufactures about 4,000 different parts to offer a low-cost alternative to consumers. The company says it also reclaims catalytic converters, but the company does not have a recycling program comparable to Ford’s.
“We are looking at recycling bumpers,” says Chrysler’s Kathy Wideman.
General Motors says it generates $1 billion a year by reusing and/or recycling materials such as worn-out tires, scrap steel, paint sludge and cardboard boxes. By finding a different use for recycled items and/or selling them to interested parties, the company says it diverted 2.5 million metric tons of waste from landfills in 2011.
Ford says more than 85 percent of each of each Ford vehicle produced today is recyclable. General Motors says many recyclables are used across its brands of cars and trucks.