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Recycled Blue Jeans And Detergent Bottles – Ford Is At The Forefront Of Sustainably Produced Vehicles

When it comes to using recycled materials, one of the oldest auto companies in the world is the maverick upstart. Unbeknownst to most of us, Ford Motors vehicles are made of 85% recycled materials by weight, making them the leading user of post-consumer products in their manufacturing process.  Recycled detergent bottles, tires, and battery casings are some of the products used in vehicle car seats, engine covers and underbody parts like aerodynamic shields, splash shields and radiator air deflector shields.

According to a press release by Ford, the company saved approximately 30 million pounds of plastic from ending up in North American landfills by using recycled materials in their manufacturing process. That not only lessened the environmental impact of garbage on our planet, it also saved the company roughly 4.5 million dollars.  The fabric in the company’s seats is made from 25% recycled materials, including plastic bottles and recycled yarns. Ford purchases the recycled fabric from four international suppliers and uses it in fifteen of their vehicle models, including the Mustang, Fiesta, Taurus and F-150.

A statement released by the John Viera, Ford’s director of Sustainability and Environmental Policy, says “By increasing the use of recycled or renewable content and reducing the use of undesirable materials whenever possible, we’re helping to reduce waste to landfills by millions of pounds – and we’re doing it around the world.”

Ford’s 2013 Fusion features seat cushions made from soy-based foam, sound dampening parts fashioned from recycled denim and plastic panels constructed from recycled car battery casings.

Ford also uses sustainable bio-mass products like wheat straw and plant based polymer resins that help to reduce carbon emissions into the environment. The Ford Flex features plastic storage bins made from wheat straw.  They hope to eventually completely eliminate petroleum based plastics from their manufacturing process.

Replacement materials for the fiberglass used between vehicle headliners and roof sheet metal are also being sought by Ford researchers. Eco-friendly substitutes for fiberglass will be biologically based, produce less CO2 emissions and weigh less than fiberglass, thus improving vehicle fuel mileage.

Sustainable plant based plastics are also on the agenda for Ford researchers, who are looking for ways to incorporate materials made entirely from things like sugar beets, corn, sweet potatoes and other vegetables. Sustainable materials made from plants help lower their manufacturing reliance on petroleum.  They also lower harmful CO2 emissions and when the vehicle goes to the junk yard, parts made from plants will be totally compostable.

“Natural fiber-reinforced plastics and plant-based polymer resins help reduce CO2 emissions by being entirely compostable, and in some cases reduce weight, which helps improve fuel economy,” says Debbie Mielewski, technical leader of Ford Plastics Research team. “We have to entertain the thought of bio-replacement in baby steps, looking at every aspect of a car that could be green. One day I hope to see the world of automotive plastics go totally compostable, removing petroleum by 100 percent.”

So, next time you sit down in a Ford automobile, think about the recycled and sustainably grown products it’s made from, including used laundry detergent bottles, straw and old blue jeans.