Coconut, corn, tomatoes, bamboo, and soy: the ingredients of a tasty-sounding salad? Perhaps, but take their inedible by-products from the kitchen into the engineering lab, and you’ve also got the biomaterial ingredients destined for a second life in Ford vehicles. Think of it as our very own sustainability salad!
When we’re talking about a commitment to sustainability, Ford truly puts its money where its mouth is. This isn’t a new phenomenon for us either—in a longstanding effort to be an automotive leader in the sustainability, Ford is already using soy foam seats and plastics reinforced by rice hulls, wheat straw, and cellulose (a natural polymer and important component of wood). And we’re going to keep innovating, so that in the future you might even find tomato skins, corn or algae in your Ford vehicle.
Sustainable biomaterials can already be found across 15 vehicle lines, including the Ford Escape (as seen in the video above).
Our investment in green solutions continues to grow on a global scale, because at Ford, using plant-based materials that would otherwise go to waste is a central part of our corporate sustainability strategy. We’re focused on the use of recyclable and renewable materials in all of our vehicles.
So, how do we take the ingredients we mentioned above and use them to create a #FordFarmtoCar sustainability salad? You may find the answer slightly soy-prising!
Sitting on Soy
Since 2011 we’ve served up a side of sustainability with comfort. That’s because all Ford vehicles built in North America since then have soy foam in their seat cushions and backs. To put that into perspective, Ford has helped to save an estimated 2.3 million kilograms of petroleum per year. Additionally, 85 per cent of Ford headrests produced in North America (not to mention the headliner on the Ford Escape) use soy foam as well.
Coco-nuts about trunk mats
Coconut coir, made from the fruit’s husks, is used in the trunk mats of some vehicles, including the Ford Focus Electric.
Playing ketch-up with by-products
Ford is also collaborating with the H.J. Heinz Company to explore using an inedible tomato fiber (a slightly less burger-and-fry-friendly by-product of ketchup production), to develop a more sustainable bio-plastic material for our vehicles. Ford researchers are testing the material’s durability for potential use in vehicle wiring brackets and storage bins.
From sea to seat
Algae—good for more than just loofa sponges—is yet another promising biomaterial that Ford hopes to repurpose as seat foam. It grows quickly, replicating up to four times per hour, and has a high per acre yield when compared to other crops.
The future of innovation at Ford—it’s about sustainable, green solutions from some very unexpected sources!