The recent 5 month oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has created a “by product” in the form of oil soaked plastic booms that will be recycled to make plastic components in General Motor’s new Chevrolet Volt hybrid car. The idea to recycle the tons of plastic material, and the crude oil it soaked up, is a project being developed by GM’s R & D laboratories, according to a GM news release. Approximately 100,000 pounds (45,455 kg) of plastic resin for Volt vehicle components can be made from this material, which will prevent from being permanently buried in landfills, with all the environmental implications this can have, especially pollution of both soil and groundwater.
According to Mike Robinson, GM’s VP of Environment, Energy and Safety policy:
“Creative recycling is one extension of GM’s overall strategy to reduce its environmental impact. 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.”
In addition using the now discarded plastic boom material, GM will also used recycles tires and other rubber and plastic materials to make parts of the car, which will be enough plastic under the hood parts to supply the first year’s production of the Volt “extended-range” electric vehicle.
This policy to recycle such waste products as the oil booms at least helps to indicate a bit of optimism to the aftermath of what may go down in history as America’s worst environmental disaster, of which British Petroleum (BP) is now catching much of the blame for.
GM’s novel recycling idea may wind up having positive repercussions in other parts of the world, especially in parts of the Middle East, where discarded tires and other materials from automobiles could wind up being recycled and made into a variety of plastic resin components for making plastic items, just like recycled plastic bottles are presently being used.
The sports shoe company Nike is also involved in introducing a program into Israel to use rubber and other materials from discarded sport shoes for making new footwear products.
The amount of plastic and synthetic rubber wastes in Middle Eastern countries like Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia must be enormous, including all types of plastic food and beverage containers and that of entire automobiles which are simply discarded when no longer wanted. And consider that people in Abu Dhabi just abandon their cars in parking lots when they are no longer needed.
GM ‘s idea of using the boom material to make parts for a car that will be much more environmentally friendly than ordinary gasoline driven ones is a fitting sequel to the oil spill disaster from which the waters of the Gulf of Mexico may never fully recover.
Read more on recycling plastic waste material in the Middle East: