DaimlerChrysler received the award for developing a new recycling technology that could significantly reduce the amount of old car parts going to landfills. The CARE (Concepts for Advanced Recycling and Environmental) Car II demonstrated that waste could be turned into a valuable product.
"DaimlerChrysler is the perfect example of the manufacturing industry's commitment to identifying crucial environmental issues and applying innovative and beneficial technology for the good of us all," said Ronald McCracken, chairman of EREF.
Bernard Robertson, Senior Vice President - Engineering Technologies and Regulatory Affairs accepted the award on behalf of DaimlerChrysler. "There is a certain irony naming a manufacturing company as 'Environmentalist of the Year,'" Robertson admitted. "But this award highlights the opportunities that global companies like DaimlerChrysler have to bring together different industries to invent environmental solutions. The CARE Car project also demonstrates that industry can protect the environment and the bottom line at the same time."
The goals of the CARE Car II demonstration program are to increase the recyclability and recovery of automobiles from 75 percent to 95 percent by weight, and increase the use of recycled materials in production vehicles. The project used an automated process developed by Recovery Plastics International (RPI) to sort and separate different types of plastic from the residue. The recovered plastic was recycled and ready for reuse.
Two Jeep Grand Cherokees were retrofitted with 54 parts made with recycled plastic. Twenty-six of DaimlerChrysler's production supply partners helped manufacture a wide variety of plastic components from the recycled plastic including carpet padding, the glove box bin, interior door trim molding, exterior body molding and fender liners.
As an added benefit, DaimlerChrysler discovered the recycled plastic offered a cost savings of about 30 percent versus the use of virgin plastic in manufacturing the components. This savings could translate into an industry-wide savings of up to $320 million per year.