February 18, 2002

General Motors receives award for recycling vehicle plastics

Detroit, Michigan – General Motors has received the Society of Plastics Engineers, Environmental Division 2002 Excellence in Plastics Impact on the Environment Award for its use of recycled plastics on GM vehicles and for its environmental design initiatives, including those used on the 2002 Chevrolet TrailBlazer.

“General Motors’ accomplishments in its use of recycled plastics on its vehicles and its environmental design initiatives are significant,” said Dr. Pallatheri Subramanian, Awards Chair, SPE’s Environmental Division.

Environmental highlights of the 2002 Chevrolet TrailBlazer include:

  • New hydroforming frame and radiator support processes rely on fluid pressure to shape the parts, thus reducing scrap steel plant-wide by more than 2,100 tons. Other advantages of hydroforming are competitive tooling costs because of fewer parts, more uniform wall thickness, consistent high tensile strength and rigidity and optimized weight. Welding is minimized, which makes for better dimensional control. On the plant floor, a quiet hydraulic press replaces a conventional noisy stamping press. The hydraulic press clamps the tubular material in the die and a water pump generating extremely high water pressure (in excess of 20,000 PSI) turns the tubular piece of metal into a desired configuration, much in the same way that air inflates a balloon.
  • The new frame is coated with a water-based e-coat, which is cleaner than a conventional, petroleum-based waxed frame.
  • Reducing the amount of lubricant used in the front axle by .4 liters saves the plant more than 21,000 gallons of lubricant each model year.
  • Radiator side air baffles are made from 3,700 recycled tires per model year.
  • Using compressed gas technology to fill air bags eliminates 117,000 pounds of sodium azide each year.
  • Fuel economy has increased 0.65 mpg in the 2002 model year, saving 326 gallons of gasoline per truck over its expected lifetime.
  • Eliminating 180 wiring circuits in the electrical system saves 12,400 miles of copper wire per model year, while increasing functionality by 40 percent.
  • In addition to the environmental features of the vehicle, GM’s Moraine, Ohio facility, where the TrailBlazer is built, also incorporates environmental considerations into the entire plant and equipment designs it uses throughout the building.

The SPE is a leading technical society for the plastics industry. Founded in 1942, its mission is to provide and promote the knowledge and education of plastics and polymers worldwide. It currently represents more than 30,000 plastics professionals in 70 countries. The Environmental Division of the SPE is concerned with all aspects of the recycling, reclamation, resource recovery and disposal of plastic materials.

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