Who doesn’t own or drive a vehicle these days? Unless you live in a metropolitan area that relies on taxis and transit services, you likely own, lease or rent a car to get around. Automobiles require so many different types of materials in the manufacturing process, but fortunately, up to 65% of a car can be recycled. When it comes to a car’s tires and interior, there are some sustainable practices in place.

Tire recycling

Tire recycling companies such as Entech deal with car, truck and industrial tires. The tires can be turned into a variety of new products, including asphalt rubber, synthetic sports fields, tire turf for playground sets, derived fuel, tire rings and rubber rock. Americans dispose nearly 290 million car and truck tires every year, so it’s imperative that consumers, car manufacturers and car dealerships take advantage of the tire recycling programs and services out there. According to CharityGuide.org, tire reclamation efforts in the U.S. have increased to 80%, but about 55 million tires are still being discarded to landfills.

Vehicle interior recycling

Ford's 2012 Focus model incorporates many recycled and recyclable elements.
In the U.K., the End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive 2000//53/EC is requiring that all automobiles in the U.K. be made from 95% recyclable materials by the year 2015. In working toward this goal, only one-fourth of the non-recyclable ELV materials are allowed to go to landfills. Although the U.S. doesn’t follow this directive, there are car companies working toward sustainability. BMW opened its first Recycle and Dismantling Center in Landshut, Germany, in 1990, and it has broadened its efforts to the U.S. so that used car components, fluids and metal can be given a new life. At the Leigh Fibers plant, the lint-free rags used for cleaning up the cars are shredded and made into insulation padding for the vehicles’ interiors. Ford is also making attempts to develop a more eco-friendly interior with its 2012 Focus. For this model, cotton from old clothing and carpet backing is processed for the interior. Tires can be recycled into many different forms, but the recyclability of a vehicle’s interior needs to be explored further. Now that materials are being reused to make parts of the interior, perhaps more manufacturers will look into recycling.