Automobiles create nearly one fifth of the United States’ emissions. For every gallon of gas, they create about 24 pounds of gases that contribute to global warming. That’s why driving an eco-friendly car — or no car at all — is one of the best ways to reduce your environmental impact.
Cars can also be green in ways other than emissions, though — and in ways a lot of people wouldn’t normally think of. Here are some car components you didn’t know could be green.
The inside of your car could be made partially from used, repurposed everyday objects.
Ford, for example, recycles old denim into padding for underneath carpets and noise-cancelling material. The company uses the amount of denim in about two pairs of jeans for one vehicle.
Ford is also working on reusing some of the 10,000 pounds of old, damaged dollar bills that are shredded every day. The manufacturer mixes the old currency with resins and works it into trays, cushions and other parts of the car’s interior.
Many car companies also use recycled plastic from water bottles and other sources in seats and center consoles.
Plant-based materials are good for more than just your body. They can also be used as quality, ecofriendly materials in the production of cars.
Daimler AG, owner of Mercedes-Benz, uses fiber from coconut in its seats. In fact, in many Mercedes-Benz models you can find up to 50 parts made from plant-based materials. Ford uses soy to make the foam for the seats in many of its models.
General Motors combines kenaf, a grass related to cotton, and flax to make trays and door panels in a few of their models. Ford replaced an oil-based resin with a kenaf-based one for use in the doors of some Ford Escape models. Making that switch saved about 300,000 pounds of the petroleum-made resin annually.
Wood fiber presents another way to make vehicles out of natural, environmentally-friendly materials. GMC and Chevrolet have used it in the floors of their vehicles, while Cadillac and BMW incorporate the material into seatbacks. According to researchers at Oregon State University, replacing silica with wood fiber as reinforcing filler will make tires cheaper to produce and improve fuel efficiency.
Reducing and recycling waste from production methods is another way auto manufacturers are going green.
Injection molding, a common production technique whereby materials are heated and then injected into a mold, is an environmentally-friendly method that automobile manufacturing often uses. Injection molding creates little waste, because the production is so controlled, and many of the materials used in this process can be recycled.
Sometimes, the materials involved in production can be repurposed for use in the cars themselves. GM receives parts shipments in cardboard boxes made with wood pulp fibers, which the company then recycles into a noise-dampening material for several of its models.
Various companies repurpose worn-out tires from test-drives into various rubber car components, such as diverters.
Environmental friendliness all the way around
Because motor vehicles account for such a large percentage of emissions in the U.S., they have become a central focus of the movement to manufacture more ecofriendly products.
Automobile manufacturers not only innovate ways to reduce emissions and increase fuel efficiency, but how to use more sustainable and recycled materials in production as well. Though it receives less attention, this method of reducing cars’ environmental impact is important and is applicable across multiple industries. Other industries should follow in their eco-friendly footsteps.
This article was written by Megan Ray Nichols. If you enjoyed this article, visit her page Schooled by Science.