How Ford Is Changing the Recycling Game


Recycling is easy. As consumers, all we have to do is put our recyclables in a different can when disposing of our waste then boom, that’s that — you’ve officially recycled.

When you’re dealing with some serious heavy-duty materials in industrial facilities, things get a little more complicated. Making the strongest, toughest Ford F150 trucks results in a lot of leftovers of parts and materials, which are not as easy to reuse and recycle as say this morning’s newspaper. Luckily, one Ford employee made it possible to drive your recycled Ford F150 or Ford Mustang from West Valley City, Utah to beyond.

All Thanks to One Man

Chip Conrad, a Ford stamping engineer, led the fight toward creating a closed-loop recycling process that saves energy, reduces waste and improves sustainability within the company; closed-loop recycling is pretty straightforward. It’s a production process where consumer waste is collected and recycled and used to make new products from the leftovers.

Aluminum waste is the most common leftover Ford production component. Conrad, with the help of his team, figured out a way to cut excess aluminum into small chips, which would then be transported by a tube system that runs through the assembly and sampling plants.

The Results

Recycling aluminum takes one-tenth the energy needed to reprocess scrap materials than it does to make it from scratch, which means crazy big savings. Closed-loop recycling saves about nine-million kilograms of aluminum every month. To put that in perspective, that’s enough aluminum to build 51 commercial jetliners or more than 37,000 Ford F150 or other F-Series truck bodies — the system is currently being used in three Ford factories and has made a massive impact on energy savings, waste reduction and sustainability.

Next time you have the option to recycle, think about Conrad and all the effort he put into recycling and ultimately changing Ford’s production process. If he can do it, we sure as heck can too.


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