Recycling water bottles after Crim

Published: Aug. 25, 2016 at 6:04 PM EDT
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(08/25/16) - During the Crim Festival of Races this weekend, runners and supporters will be using thousands of gallons of bottled water. What will happen to all those bottles?

General Motors says it wants them. It has big plans, plans that already include thousands of the bottles handed out to Flint residents who are coping with the city's Water Emergency.

GM says it is partnering with Schupan Recycling to collect the bottles this weekend. They'll be washed, processed and turned into some totally unexpected material.

"The water bottles are going to go into a special program we created," said John Bradburn, GM global manager of waste reduction.

For the past few months, GM has been making an effort to collect water bottles at five southeastern Michigan plants. The bottles can be recycled and turned into a fleece. The underside of the engine manifold cover for a Chevy Equinox is lined with a fabric made from water bottles. A winter coat made in Detroit can double as a sleeping bag and is designed to keep the homeless warm on cold winter nights. The insulation is made from recycled water bottles.

"Special to Flint, these water bottles are going to go to the New Life Center in the form of a fabric material and they're going to be made into filters," Bradburn said.

Those filters will be installed in the air handling system of 10 GM plants. The fleece is created in Sarnia, Ontario and sent to St. Luke's in Flint, where the layers are sewn together.

"It's very exciting just to see the reproduction of something that we're having to use for unfortunate reasons, for us to be able to recycle and use them for something positive I think is something well and good," said Tameka Davis, seamstress supervisor at St. Luke's New Life Center.

The filter material arrived at the New Life Center on Monday.

"I'm just very excited for St. Luke's New Life Center to actually be able to be a part of this," Davis said.

Four seamstresses at St. Luke's will sew the filters together at a rate of five to 10 an hour.

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