TECH: GM Turns Water Bottles Into Car Parts and More

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GM Global Manager of Waste Reduction John Bradburn demonstrates

As carmakers work to make their operations greener, some of ther recycled products are finding their way into the cars that roll down the line.

General Motors, like many other car manufacturers, has focused its efforts on making its manufacturing a zero-waste affair.

The company’s latest efforts involved collecting and processing water bottles used by employees at five Michigan GM facilities.

General Motors is turning its employees’ empty water bottles into a full new life: noise-reducing fabric insulation that covers the Chevrolet Equinox engine. The bottles – collected from four of its Michigan facilities – are also being turned into air filtration components and insulation for coats for the homeless community. (Photo by Santa Fabio for General Motors)

These bottles are being processed and re-used into noise insulation that goes under the Chevy Equinox V6’s nylon engine topper. Here, it’s shown on top it the topper.

This fabric insulation, set on top of the engine as a demonstration, is made from water bottles collected from various GM facilities. The material sits beneath the nylon engine cover to further dampen engine noise. (Photo by Santa Fabio for General Motors)

The Equinox’s V6 engines are not the only recipient of this material. GM has donated 24,000 yards of insulation to The Empowerment Plan, which uses this water-bottle insulation for the formerly homeless to create coats for the current homeless.

This one is worn by John Bradburn, GM’s Global Manager of Waste Reduction.

John Bradburn, GM’s global manager of waste reduction, wears an Empowerment Plan coat insulated with a fleece material made from some of GM’s used water bottles. (Photo by Santa Fabio for General Motors)

These ingenious coats can be folded into sleeping bags and cost about $100 to produce.

Some of GM’s water bottles are recycled into insulation for Empowerment Plan coats that turn into sleeping bags for the homeless community. (Photo by Santa Fabio for General Motors)

Those water bottles have other uses; GM is turning some of their products back into its own manufacturing system, in the form of air filters for its facilities.

Some of GM’s water bottles are recycled into air filters for 10 of its facilities. (Photo by Santa Fabio for General Motors)

“Recycling is good, but viewing waste as a valuable resource that can be plugged into your operations or products is even better,” John Bradburn said. 

“It’s about rethinking the process and finding more sustainable ways to manufacture products and contribute to our communities.”

General Motors is turning its employees’ empty water bottles from five Michigan locations into a new life: noise-reducing fabric insulation that covers the Chevrolet Equinox V6 engine. (Photo by Santa Fabio for General Motors)

That’s the extra benefit of a giant corporation like GM turning its attention to greening things up.

It’s one thing for each of us to load up our recycling bins, but it’s quite another for a company to re-purpose a portion of its waste. The company itself benefits from re-using its own throwaways, and the partnering companies can flourish and grow from it as well.

And in this case, likely hundreds of homeless people will be a little warmer. Sounds like a win all around.

Think you might want to buy a Chevy Equinox V6 with this recycled insulation? Here’s a search for one with BestRide’s comprehensive listings.

 

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