Old money (paper money, that is) gets turned into the Federal Reserve to be shredded. And a great deal of it used to end up in landfills. But since the 1990’s, it’s gone to better, more recycled uses.
Ford Motor Company recently announced it would be expanding its use of “green” and alternative materials. That means that shredded old money, as well as dandelions, trees, grass, corn, sugar cane and coconuts could soon be used to make auto parts for the Dearborn, Michigan auto giant.
Most of Americans don’t realize that 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of retired paper currency are shredded daily – more than 3.6 million pounds of the green stuff annually. The shredded money is either compressed into briquettes and landfilled, or burned.
“Finding alternative sources for materials is becoming imperative as petroleum prices continue to rise and traditional, less sustainable materials become more expensive.” says John Viera, Ford’s global director of Sustainability and Vehicle Environmental matters.
“Building vehicles with great fuel economy is our highest priority in reducing our environmental impact,” said Carrie Majeske, Ford’s product sustainability manager. “We recognize the use of sustainable materials inside our cars, utilities and trucks can also help reduce our environmental impact. These are steps that are not only better for our planet in the long run but are cost-effective as well.”
Having had the privilege of touring a number of Ford’s laboratories where the testing on many of the new sustainable materials is done, it’s exciting to see the company’s steadily increasing interest in green materials as part of its parts construction resources. The Fusion, the Escape, Ford’s electric Focus and others of the line are classic examples of this.
- The new Fusion contains the equivalent of slightly more than two pairs of average-sized American blue jeans as sound-dampening material to help eliminate unwanted road, wind and powertrain noise.
- The carpet in the new Escape contains the equivalent of 25 recycled 20-ounce plastic bottles.
- The Focus Electric uses a wood-fiber-based material in its doors and recycled plastic bottles in its seat fabric.
Who knows what else is behind those figurative garage doors and in the creative minds at Ford headquarters?
“When we first started talking about this stuff 10 years ago, it was mainly automotive and trade magazines showing interest in our research,” said Mielewski. “Now it seems to be everywhere. We are working on very exciting research and it will be interesting to see what comes next and how fast.”