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GM Builds Chevy Equinox Part Out of Recycled Water Bottles

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The starting MSRP of the 2016 Chevrolet Equinox is $22,600

2016 Chevrolet Equinox

Electric vehicles and hybrids may get the most publicity, but there are lots of ways that automakers can reduce their carbon footprint, some more unusual than others. Case in point: General Motors is using its employees’ recycled water bottles to create noise-reducing fabric insulation that covers the Chevy Equinox engine.

Collected from five of the automaker’s Michigan facilities, the bottles are also being used to make air filtration components and insulation coats for the homeless.

As part of its drive towards zero waste, all of GM’s global facilities now recycle their water bottles. The ones collected at the automaker’s five Michigan locations are funneled into its “Do Your Part” project, where 11 businesses work together to give them a second life.

GM facilities use the air filtration components to protect air quality, while the insulation Empowerment Plan coats that transform into sleeping bags.

“Recycling is good, but viewing waste as a valuable resource that can be plugged into your operations or products is even better,” said John Bradburn, GM global manager of waste reduction. “It’s about rethinking the process and finding more sustainable ways to manufacture products and contribute to our communities.”

GM says that it pursued this project after realizing that sourcing recycled material cost the same while reducing waste and conserving energy, and would enable the automaker to engage a network of North American companies to process the material, strengthening the economy. So far, GM has donated 24,000 yards of insulation—enough to make 6,500 coats for the homeless.

“Many of today’s businesses are challenging the take-make-dispose model and seeing the benefits of a more circular economy,” said Andrew Mangan, executive director for the US Business Council for Sustainable Development. “From closed-loop recycling to helping launch material reuse networks, GM is thinking differently and getting other companies to join in.”

Additionally, GM recycles cardboard into a sound-dampening material in the Buick Verano headliner, uses plastic caps and shipping aids to make radiator shrouds for the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, and shreds test tires to manufacture air and water baffles for a variety of vehicles.