Mississippi River Tires to Become GM Car Parts

Mississippi River Tires to Become GM Car Parts

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 – 12:25pm

Today is America Recycles Day – an opportunity to celebrate recycling in the United States. GM knows recycling is good business and enjoys turning waste streams into revenue streams daily. Its vision is a future where cars are built without waste. Momentum is strong with 139 landfill-free sites around the world and more on the way.

But it’s not just eliminating waste within the company’s own walls, it’s about helping others reduce their environmental footprint and generating some societal good along the way. After all, collaboration is at the forefront of the circular economy.

Just as GM helped collect water bottles from the Flint, Michigan community to turn them into engine covers and insulation for Empowerment Plan coats for the homeless, GM is now looking to the Mississippi River for its next project.

Chad Pregracke, founder and president of the nonprofit Living Lands and Waters, spends his days on barges cleaning up trash in rivers throughout Mississippi, Illinois, Tennessee and Ohio. GM global waste reduction manager John Bradburn met him at a Suppliers Partnership for the Environment meeting and started talking about the various waste streams he encounters. He perked up when he heard about the massive amounts of tires washed ashore or at the bottom of the water.

GM offered a plan to get a couple of truckloads of tires power-washed and ground, and transport them to GDC, Inc., an Indiana-based supplier that will further process them into vehicle parts.

“These tires from the Mississippi River will produce a high-quality part for our customers, all in a cost-neutral way for GM,” said Bradburn. “This is an example of how we are reaching beyond our industry to do our part and demonstrate what’s possible.”

GM already uses its own test tires from its Milford Proving Ground to make air-deflecting baffles for a variety of its vehicles, so incorporating these tires will be a turnkey process. GDC processes the tire rubber and then combines it with a mixture of packaging plastic from the automaker’s Fort Wayne Assembly plant and other post-consumer recycled plastics.

“I have witnessed firsthand the degradation of some of America’s greatest rivers, and have dedicated my life to cleaning them up,” said Pregracke. “Humanity may be responsible for many of the problems on this Earth, but I believe it is the hope and determination that exists within each of us that has the potential to become the solution.”