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Reducing End-of-Life Impacts

Automobiles are some of the most highly recycled consumer products in the world. The majority of materials contained in vehicles – particularly metals, polymers and fluids – can be recovered at the end of their useful lives.

In theory, end-of-life vehicles are 95 percent recoverable, but in practice, the cost in energy and labor to recover the final fractions manually often exceeds their value and the environmental benefits of doing so. We try to achieve the highest level of economically and environmentally viable recovery through the careful selection of materials, and by providing dismantlers with information on materials used and the best methods for treatment.

Take-Back Schemes

We’ve long been at the forefront of providing cost-free take-back networks for end-of-life vehicles (ELVs). There are currently networks for Ford vehicles in 19 E.U. markets, and we participate in a further 10. In the U.K., Ford was the first major manufacturer to establish a comprehensive plan that met the E.U. Directive, working with to create a network of 190 facilities.

Alternative End-of-Life Treatments

Addressing end-of-life issues associated with mercury in older vehicles, we helped to forge a collaboration among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state authorities, dismantlers, steelmakers and environmental groups to recycle mercury switches. With more than 10,000 participants in the scheme, over 7.1 tons of mercury had been recovered by the end of 2016. With this agreement set to end in 2017, we have forged a new agreement with the steelmakers to collectively manage mercury switch recovery through to the end of 2021.

To help divert plastic, foam and other nonmetal materials (known collectively as “automotive shredder residue” or ASR) from landfill, we support the development and implementation of treatment technologies that make the actual recycling of ELVs more economically and ecologically viable. We’ve also co-sponsored a life cycle assessment that showed the environmental benefits of using ASR for energy recovery.

Recycling During Servicing

At our U.S. dealership service centers, we recycle, reuse and reprocess the parts removed during servicing, such as headlights, bumpers and windshield-wiper motors. Dealers are charged for new parts, but are reimbursed if they are recycled through our Core Recovery Program. Parts that can be remanufactured are cleaned, machined and tested before being used in new vehicles; otherwise, they are broken down into small pellets and used to make new parts.

The scheme forms part of our voluntary Go Green Dealer Sustainability Program, to which around half of our U.S. Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers have signed up.

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