DETROIT-General Motors Corp. is working to increase the recycled content of plastic automotive parts, but the company also is taking a bottom-line approach to the issue. ``Recycling is not going to happen because of motherhood and apple pie; it will happen because there's an economically viable market for recycled parts,'' said David Garrett, engineering group manager for strategic materials planning at Delphi Interior & Lighting Systems in Warren, Mich.
Delphi, the former Inland Fisher Guide Division, is GM's captive supplier of plastic interior and exterior trim. Delphi operates nine molding plants in North America that consume some 180 million pounds of resin annually. Garrett was interviewed March 1 at the SAE International Congress and Exposition in Detroit.
Garrett said Delphi is taking a ``very aggressive approach'' in boosting the recycled content of plastic products. However, he said the automaker is not shooting for a fixed-percentage target.
``The issue is, how can you do it in a way that's cost-competitive with the materials that are on the market today,'' Garrett said. ``We can't expect people to pay more.''
He contends that plastic auto parts made with recycled content should be ``transparent'' to the consumer. While car buyers may approve of a greener vehicle, they are still primarily interested in appearance, price and value when making buying decisions, Garrett said.
Suppliers also are playing a key role in developing creative new products that incorporate recycled resins. Garrett said that partnership is crucial to achieving Delphi's goals.
``We're working with them, as opposed to dictating to them,'' he said of suppliers. ``We think these partnerships will bear fruit for us.''
Still, despite the economic and technological hurdles that recycled resins often present, Garrett said there is no going back. Delphi will be making more parts with recycled resin, he promised.
``We have to,'' Garrett said. ``We don't have a choice. That's one of the ways to stay viable in this market.''