In a world where our fossil fuel addiction has cost us our air quality and a great deal of money, manufacturers are now improving the fuel efficiency of their vehicles via many methods, especially weight reduction. Weight reduction is often achieved via the use of carbon fiber or aluminium instead of steel (for the manufacture of vehicle body panels). Aluminium stands out because it is a highly recyclable metal (95% recyclable). It is not only feasible to recycle with negligible degradation, but recycling aluminium is far cheaper and more energy efficient than mining it.
Ford manufactures the 2015 F-150 truck body using aluminium, which is significantly lighter than steel, but more expensive. To offset this cost, Ford cleans and returns the $300 of leftover scrap aluminium from the F-150 manufacturing process back to the aluminium plant it came from. This saves money and energy, and it saves us all some emissions as well. Ford sends in thousands of pounds of scrap aluminium per day for recycling. Hopefully, the rest of the manufacturers follow suit!
“Every single scrap of aluminum is reused,” said Mark Fields, the CEO of Ford, in an interview. “The more you can reuse or recycle, it makes it a more compelling business case.”
Last, but not least, aluminium is precious, not because it’s rare (it isn’t), but because it is such an important part of our daily lives. We all rely on products constructed at least partially from aluminium on a daily basis, so aluminium needs to be used as efficiently as possible to avoid supply constraints for now. It’s good to see Ford doing so.