What Do Oil Spills, Education & The Volt Have in Common?


The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is far from over and but when it is, just what do you do with all that waste? In the case of the oil-soaked, plastic absorbent booms that floated in the Gulf of Mexico, they are ending up as parts for the Chevy Volt. This according to General Motors who is telling their story today during a radio media tour. GM estimates that they will save more than 100 miles of boom material off the Alabama and Louisiana coasts from landfills and create enough parts to supply the first production run that is now underway.

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

Heritage Environmental collected the boom material and then Mobile Fluid Recovery used a massive high-speed drum to spin the booms until they were dry. This process eliminated all the absorbed oil and wastewater. Then using its patented process, Lucent Polymers turned the booms into the physical state necessary for plastic die-mold production where finially, GDC converted it into auto parts. The components, which aid in vehicle air flow and water deflection, are typically comprised of post-consumer recycled plastics and other polymers, and recycled tires from GM’s Milford Proving Ground vehicle test facility. Now, 25 percent of the composition includes the boom material.

In case you’re wondering, who was the very first consumer owner of the Chevrolet Volt? Rick Henderson, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group, has purchased the first Volt for $225,000. All proceeds from the online auction, which closed on Dec. 14, will benefit science, math, engineering, and technology education initiatives through the Detroit Public Schools Foundation.

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