Ketchup. Your Ford. What do they have in common? Probably more than you think. The biomaterials engineering team at Ford Motor Company has been hard at work with a variety of different industries in an attempt to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to plastics production.
The most notable partner in Ford’s eco-efforts is H.J. Heinz Co., the famed ketchup producer. Ford and Heinz have teamed up to help turn tomato skins and fibrous tomato by-products into floormats for Ford vehicles. Heinz reports that over 2 million pounds of fresh tomatoes are used each year in the ketchup-making process, creating a perfect opportunity for Ford to kick-start their alternative plastics initiative.
However, this isn’t Ford’s first go-around at creating a environmentally sustainable plastic for their vehicles. Ford uses recycled blue jeans and t-shirts for interior padding in the Escape. They also feature wheat straw in storage bins for the Flex, plastics water bottles in the Focus Electric’s seat covers and hibiscus plant fiber in their door bolsters.
And it doesn’t stop there. Ford is also working on turning dandelions into trim and tires, recycled currency into coin holders and soy oil into seat cushions. It’s all part of Ford’s effort to reduce overall vehicle weight and boost fuel efficiency through use of alternative, nonpetroleum-based materials. Couple these innovations with Ford’s growing EcoBoost line and it’s easy to see how much Ford values environmental sustainability.
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