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Bumper (and Light) Crop: Ford Program Celebrates 10 Years, Keeping 120 Million Pounds Of Damaged Parts From Landfills

General recycling awareness has increased, too. The U.S. EPA reports that in 2010 recycling helped keep 85 million tons of material from being disposed of in landfills – up from 15 million tons in 1980.

Other factors led to the creation of the Core Recovery Program: Vehicle components, for example, have become increasingly complex and expensive, making it more important than ever to recycle and reuse parts whenever possible. 

Take the headlight portion of the program: As recently as 15 years ago, headlights were pretty basic and utilitarian – consisting mostly of a bulb, a glass lens and a reflector.

Now, typical headlight assemblies are almost two feet wide and have become a major part of the vehicle, both in terms of design and function – consisting of not just a few parts, but expensive plastics, advanced bulb technology, additional wiring harnesses and more.

The headlight portion of the program started in November 2011. In its first year alone, about 26,000 units were reclaimed and every single part of the headlamp is recycled.

In fact, more than 85 percent of each Ford vehicle today is recyclable, with more and more parts being kept from landfills.

Bumpers, for example, are now collected and sent to a third party where they are processed into pellets that can then be used to make brand-new products. Since 2010, about 62,000 bumpers have been recycled through the program.

"These bumpers are typically between five and six feet long and can yield as much as 20 pounds of material after they have been processed," said Goering. "That adds up fast and makes it pretty easy to see how much of an impact the program makes – and that's with just one category."

Yet another benefit of the Core Recovery Program is that it helps keep damaged parts from being resold in the aftermarket, says Mark Trombetta, manager of the Ford Regional Core Recovery Center Network. For example, Ford doesn't want to encourage people to try and somehow fix the new complicated headlights of today's vehicles.

"Unauthorized selling of Ford parts in the aftermarket can be a problem because Ford has no way to ensure the level of quality," he says. "Then you have a situation where a part being utilized doesn't truly reflect Ford's high standards of quality, but still has the Blue Oval on it."

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