Ford has long been lauded for its recycling efforts at its plants and within its own vehicles. In fact, the automaker recycles over one million plastic bottles per year and uses that material to produce parts and even 3D print them, including the carpet present in the Ford EcoSport. Now, the Ford Bronco Sport has become the very first vehicle to utilize 100 percent recycled ocean plastic in some of its parts, the automaker has announced.
The Ford Bronco Sport features wiring harness clips made entirely from ocean-harvested plastic that fasten to the sides of the second-row seats and guide wires that power side-curtain airbags. The clips weigh just five grams each, are 10 percent cheaper to produce, and are just as strong and durable as petroleum-based clips with less energy required to produce them, Ford researchers discovered. Additionally, up to 13 million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean each year, threatening marine life and polluting shorelines, so the clips help remove at least some of that.
“This is another example of Ford leading the charge on sustainability,” said Jim Buczkowski, vice president of research and Henry Ford technical fellow.” It is a strong example of circular economy, and while these clips are small, they are an important first step in our explorations to use recycled ocean plastics for additional parts in the future.”
In addition to providing the aforementioned advantages over petroleum-based clips, these ocean-harvested plastic clips also help create jobs. The plastic – made from items such as discarded nylon fishing nets – is collected from the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea by DSM Engineering Material, then washed, dried, and extruded to form small pellets. Those pellets are then injection-molded by supplier HellermannTyton into a desired shape.
“As a global leader in cable management innovation, HellermannTyton strives for eco-friendly ways to pave the path to a more sustainable future,” said Anisia Peterman, HellermannTyton’s automotive product manager. “Developments like this do not come easy, so we are proud to collaborate with Ford in support of a unique product solution that contributes to healthier oceans.”
Ford has been using recycled plastics not from the ocean to produce parts for over two decades now, and is already planning on creating additional components using recycled ocean plastics, including transmission brackets, wire shields, and floor side rails.