New Recyclable Containers to Reduce Shipping Costs 25 Percent

With the entire environmental hubbub in the car industry surrounding emissions and fuel economy, its easy to forget about all the environmentally unfriendly steps it takes to get a car to its owner. Between manufacturing and shipping processes, even the most inefficient car is a relatively small eco-criminal, but thanks to something as mundane as a new shipping container design, Ford thinks they can solve that.

Thats right, the makers of the worlds largest SUV are trying their darndest to gain merit in environmentalists books by shipping their car parts in recyclable plastic containers. Made from polypropylene plastic as opposed to cardboard, these new containers are the result of a two-year collaboration between Fords Material Planning & Logistics group and Georgias Institute of Technology. The new overseas shipping containers were developed with three goals in mind: to be environmentally sustainable, socially conscious, and cost-effective.

The first of those goals is attained via three ways; the most obvious of which is being that the new plastic containers do not consume trees, whereas the typical cardboard international transport container reportedly consumes an estimated 2,500 trees a year. Secondly, because the containers are more resilient and larger, they can carry more parts, reducing total shipments. That in turn reduces greenhouse emissions from ships, trucks, and trains carrying Ford parts. Finally, and most interestingly, these containers can be ground up and turned into plastic car parts, like F-150 mudguards.

The socially conscious effort stems from the containers ergonomic design that allows the containers to be opened more easily by plant workers; the result of consulting plant operators during the design phase. The containers, currently used for powertrain parts, have already undergone both durability and real-world testing, and have passed both with flying colors.

Between the saved time and materials, Ford is forecasting that this container alone will reduce their shipping costs by a whopping 25 percent, due in part to the fact that these new containers will allow Ford to package their own powertrain parts as opposed to contracting a third-party to do it for them. Thats something they havent been able to do up until now thanks to regulations banning cardboard from powertrain plants for safety reasons. Of course, in view of such stupendous savings, Ford is looking at ways to expand the project, assessing the feasibility of using these plastic containers to carry other parts like stereo equipment and engine components as well as using the recycled material for other types of car parts.

Perhaps most interesting, though, is the fact that this isnt the first time Ford has used recyclable containers. Rumor has it that in the early 1900s Henry Ford had his Model T truck wheels shipped in specially designed wooden crates. Upon delivery the wooden crates would be broken down, and the wood from them used to build the bed of the truck. Should Ford ever swap their F-series steel bed for a Honda-style plastic one, that story might just repeat itself with these new polypropylene crates.
king at ways to expand the project, assessing the feasibility of using these plastic containers to carry other parts like stereo equipment and engine components as well as using the recycled material for other types of car parts.

Perhaps most interesting, though, is the fact that this isnt the first time Ford has used recyclable containers. Rumor has it that in the early 1900s Henry Ford had his Model T truck wheels shipped in specially designed wooden crates. Upon delivery the wooden crates would be broken down, and the wood from them used to build the bed of the truck. Should Ford ever swap their F-series steel bed for a Honda-style plastic one, that story might just repeat itself with these new polypropylene crates.