Recently, news broke about a secret project at Ford Motor Company called the “Piquette Project” where a team was assembled for the purpose of finding a lot of environmentally friendly answers and ideas applicable to automotive manufacturing. One of those ideas was the totally recyclable car. It would be easily disassembled and anything not reusable would be biodegradable.
The concept left me scratching my head because as long as I’ve been around cars, which is quite a few years, the junk yard, scrap yard, auto recycler, … whatever name it went by, was an integral part of a car’s life cycle. Once a car was beyond repair, off it went for disassembly and reuse. What’s new about that?
As far as ease of disassembly, have you ever seen what a chop shop can do to a car in a few hours? It’s scary. On a legitimate level, auto recyclers today are a far cry from the junkyards of my childhood, where the owner would point in the general direction of the cars I was looking for when I needed a part. Off I would go with a toolbox, later returning with my prize. These days, a car is placed in a bright and well lighted bay and a team of techs pulls parts which are catalogued and entered into the computer, placed on shelves, ready for their next home on another vehicle being repaired.
Remaining pieces damaged beyond reuse can be crushed and shredded, melted down and find use in a newly manufactured product. Much like a cow being slaughtered, there isn’t much, if anything, that can’t be used. If left to rot behind someone’s garage, it certainly takes a long time to return to the earth and there’s not much design work that can get around a refusal to dispose of the old hulk, but the totally recyclable car may already exist and no secret project is required to make it happen.