DETROIT — A new joint venture has developed what it touts as an environmentally friendly way to pamper cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles. Aguirre Hematite Manufacturing LLC will begin production next year on a leak-proof seal barrier for General Motors Corp. vehicles that uses post-industrial polyethylene from diaper makers.
"There's a tremendous amount of scrap coming from diaper makers and normally it's just landfilled," program manager Tim Miller said in a May 5 telephone interview.
The venture between Mexican Industries of Detroit and Hematite, the Guelph, Ontario-based unit of Pavaco Group Co., also will produce a thermoplastic elastomer acoustic shield that uses recycled scrap from sneaker soles, auto bumpers and other products.
GM is set to put the SoundGuard and AquaGuard products into some of its trucks starting in early 2002. The barriers are a layer material placed between a vehicle's steel door frame and the interior trim.
Aguirre Hematite will use one of three production methods — injection molding, vacuum forming or die cutting — depending on the application and the type of vehicle using the piece, Miller said.
The venture will begin with about a dozen employees using space in an existing Mexican Industries plant in Detroit, with expansions planned as it acquires more business, according to Mexican Industries President Rod Adams.
"We hope to outgrow it as soon as possible," Adams said. "We're talking to both DaimlerChrysler and Ford and there seems to be some degree of interest."
The program offers automakers an opportunity to boost the recycled content in their vehicles and deal with a minority-owned supplier, Adams noted.
Mexican Industries owns 52 percent of Aguirre Hematite.
The recycled PE and TPEs are competitively priced, with the SoundGuard parts offering both acoustic and water protection, Adams said. Other systems require two separate barriers.
The companies would not say how much the contract is worth.
Hematite developed SoundGuard and AquaGuard to replace barriers now made with virgin thermoplastics. It decided to team with Mexican Industries to produce the pieces.
Mexican Industries has three other joint ventures: Dos Manos Technology with Cambridge Industries Inc., Aguirre Collins & Aikman Plastics with Collins & Aikman Corp. and Aguirre Safety Technologies with TRW Inc.
"The real key in any joint venture is the compatibility of the partners," he said. "I feel like Mexican Industries and Hematite are very, very compatible."