EcoLon Engine Covers. Image Courtest of Ford Motor Company

EcoLon Engine Covers. Image Courtest of Ford Motor Company

While you're ripping up old celery shag to lay down fresh berber, you may wonder where the carpet ends up. Probably, regrettably, a landfill somewhere--which is not the case with some automotive carpeting that a Ford supplier is turning into new parts.

For years, automakers have used plastics to replace metal in some engine components such as engine covers, valve covers and even intake manifolds. It takes a lot of petroleum to make those plastics, though, so anything that can be done to reduce the amount of virgin plastic used in cars would ultimately benefit both the environment and the consumer.

Two Ford suppliers, Wellman Engineering Resins and Dana, have come up with a way to turn old nylon carpeting into EcoLon, a nylon resin they claim is ideal for use in components such as valve covers.

To produce the material, Wellman Engineering grinds discarded carpet into fibers, then applies a proprietary (and secretive) process to recapture the nylon resin. This resin is shipped to supplier Dana, who casts it into valve covers for 3.0-liter and 5.0-liter Ford engines.  These valve covers are the first post-consumer nylon products of their kind, and they emphasize Ford’s “reduce, reuse, recycle” sustainability strategy.

Ford currently uses EcoLon valve covers on Ford Escape, Fusion, Mustang and F-150 models.

In 2010, Ford estimates that their use of EcoLon kept more than 4.1 million pounds of old nylon carpeting out of landfills. It also eliminated the need to convert over 430,000 gallons of oil into virgin plastic.

It's no wonder Ford is looking at other uses for the environmentally-friendly recycled resin. It’s less expensive to produce than similar plastics, which potentially adds up to consumer cost savings on new cars.