GM Recycles Oil-Soaked Booms From BP Spill Into Parts for Chevy Volt

By Jennifer Welsh | December 21, 2010 4:00 pm

oil-boomsThe Chevy Volt is taking aim at the green market. Not only did it nab the 2010 green car of the year award, but it’s also helping to clean up the mess that big oil company BP made in the Gulf of Mexico.

GM is recycling 10,000 pounds of oil-soaked booms from the gulf into parts for the Volt. Instead of sending the booms to landfills, their absorbent polypropylene (which bears plastic-recycling #5) filler will be cleaned and recycled, GM said in the press release:

“This was purely a matter of helping out,” said John Bradburn, manager of GM’s waste-reduction efforts. “If sent to a landfill, these materials would have taken hundreds of years to begin to break down, and we didn’t want to see the spill further impact the environment. We knew we could identify a beneficial reuse of this material given our experience.”

The used booms will be resurrected as an auto part that deflects air from the radiator; boom material will make up 25 percent of the part, with 25 percent coming from recycled tires and the rest from post-consumer recycled plastics and other polymers. The parts are made with the collaboration of four different companies: Heritage Environmental collected the booms, Mobile Fluid Recovery dried them, Lucent Polymers transformed the material into a resin for die-mold production, and GDC Inc. produced the components, the company explained in the press release:

“Creative recycling is one extension of GM’s overall strategy to reduce its environmental impact,” said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety policy.  “We reuse and recycle material by-products at our 76 landfill-free facilities every day. This is a good example of using this expertise and applying it to a greater magnitude.”

GM is now trumpeting some major “green company” status: the company says its facilities recycle 90 percent of the waste they generate, their cars and trucks are at least 85 percent recyclable, and more than half of its worldwide facilities are landfill-free—all manufacturing waste is recycled or used to create energy.

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DISCOVER: The Next Source of Green Energy: Your Car Itself
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Image: Flickr/uscgd8

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