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DEAD BATTERIES SPARK RECYCLING PROSPECTS

 DEARBORN, Mich., Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- That old battery may no longer start your engine, but it could be just the thing to protect your next car from mud, rocks and rust. That's because polypropylene splash shields on 1994-model Ford Thunderbirds, Mercury Cougars and Lincoln Continentals now are made entirely from recycled battery casings.
 "This program demonstrates the win-win possibilities of automotive recycling," said Frank E. Macher, general manager, Ford Plastic & Trim Products Division. "Not only does the recycled plastic meet Ford's stringent standards for durability and performance, it's less expensive and lends itself to be recycled many times over."
 The recycled plastic costs 20 percent less than virgin polypropylene. And Ford (NYSE: F) research shows that vehicle parts made from the material can be shredded, pelletized and remolded into new parts up to a dozen times.
 The material's only drawback? You can have any color as long as it's black. Reprocessed polypropylene cannot absorb new color, so its use is limited to less fashionable components such as the underbody splash shields, which protect a vehicle's chassis from road debris, mud and the like.
 Ford's Milan (Mich.) Plastics Plant and battery recycler KW Plastics of Troy, Ala., worked together to develop the reclaimed polypropylene for its newest use. In this program alone, Ford expects to use more than 2.3 million pounds of the recycled polypropylene each year.
 That equals more than a million battery casings reborn as two three-pound splash shields in about 325,000 Ford cars in a typical model year.
 Meanwhile, Ford is looking at other polypropylene components to determine whether they, too, can be made with recyclate. The amount of polypropylene used in today's vehicles varies by model line, but use of the material is widespread. Ford's Climate Control Division, for example, uses 25 million pounds each year in components it makes for vehicle heating and cooling systems.
 In the U.S., vehicles already are the most recycled durable consumer products. More than 94 percent of all "junked" vehicles go to a dismantling center, where more than 75 percent of their content is recycled -- including 98 percent of all batteries. Ford is working aggressively to develop programs aimed at facilitating recycling of the remaining 25 percent, with special emphasis on plastics, which typically account for about 10 percent of a vehicle's weight but are often the most difficult to recycle.
 Ford Vehicle Recycling Facts
 Ford this spring published worldwide recycling guidelines for use by its own engineers as well as its suppliers. Ford is unique in publishing such guidelines, which represent an important step toward institutionalizing recyclability as a design issue. For example, the guidelines encourage the use of recyclable materials and direct engineers to combine them to be easily separable. They also recommend they use fewer types of materials. As an example, Ford once specified 150 grades of nylon, but now recommends only 20 -- making nylon parts much easier to separate and recycle at the end of a vehicle's lifetime.
 Ford is the nation's largest automotive user of recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) soft drink bottles. The company uses more than 50 million bottles in parts like grille opening reinforcement panels, headliners and luggage rack side rails in more than a million vehicles annually, including Taurus, Sable, Escort, Explorer, F-Series and Econoline. This pop-bottle-to-car-parts program was recognized recently by the Washington, D.C.-based environmental coalition Renew America as a model of environmental excellence in business.
 In a pilot program that began late last year, XENOY bumpers from salvaged Taurus, Sable, Tempo, Topaz, Aerostar, Escort and Tracer models are turned into taillamp housings for selected Ford Tauruses.
 The demonstration cars are being tested in Alaska, Texas and California for durability and, if the test goes well, it's expected the program will go into full production by year-end 1993.
 A cross-functional Ford group nicknamed the "RAT Patrol" -- RAT is for Recycling Action Team -- is aggressively looking for innovative ways to continue Ford's leadership in the incorporation of recycled materials, and they have more than two dozen new projects under development.
 -0- 9/22/93
 /CONTACT: Pam Kueber of Ford, 313-337-2456/
 (F)


CO: Ford Motor Company ST: Michigan IN: AUT ENV SU:

SB -- DE009 -- 4619 09/22/93 10:46 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 22, 1993
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