Ambitious scientists in the Middle Ages dreamed of striking it rich by using alchemy to transform common materials into gold. For years, Ford’s been practicing a special brand of alchemy; but Ford’s in the pursuit of something far more valuable than gold—sustainable practices. By working with the agriculture industry, Ford’s been able to come up with creative uses for materials that that are simply better for the environment.

As early as the 1930s, Ford pioneered the use of soybean oil in some of the plastic parts found in vehicles, as well as having introduced the use of wheat straw in the steering wheel. Here are a few ways Ford continues to innovate and implement plant-based and recycled materials in vehicles today.

From Tomato Skins to Storage Bins

We all know juicy tomatoes can be turned into everybody’s favourite miracle condiment—ketchup. Today researchers at Heinz and Ford foresee another bright future for the plump fruit in the automotive world. There is no shortage of peels, stems and seeds at the Heinz plant as a result of processing two million tons of tomatoes each year. Instead of letting it go to waste, researchers have been able to create a strong lightweight material which could soon end up in your Ford as a wiring bracket or storage bin.

Modern Day Alchemy: The Art of Turning Tomatoes Into Cars
Modern Day Alchemy: The Art of Turning Tomatoes Into Cars

 Unbottling Green Ideas

PlantBottle™ is a Coca Cola packaging initiative that introduces plant-based materials (up to 30 percent) in bottles. PlantBottle™ is responsible for saving 400,000 barrels of oil and counting since being introduced in 2009. For the first time ever, Ford researchers have been able to create a fiber from recycled PlantBottles™ that can be woven into a durable, automotive-grade PET fabric. This fabric is currently present in the Ford Fusion Energi’s seat cushions, seat backs, head restraints, door panel inserts and headliners.

Modern Day Alchemy: The Art of Turning PlantBottles™ Into Cars
Modern Day Alchemy: The Art of Turning PlantBottles™ Into Cars

 A Little Creativity Goes a Long Way

Did you know that since 2011, all Fords produced in North America feature soy foam in the seat cushions and seat backs? Did you also know that recycled jeans (like the pair you’re probably wearing now) are used as a sound insulating material in vehicles like the F-150 and Escape? While other automakers may be obsessed solely with fuel efficiency, Ford understands sustainable solutions don’t stop there.

A Little Creativity Goes a Long Way
Modern Day Alchemy: The Art of Turning Soybeans Into Cars

Making the world a better place is not magic. It just takes a little creativity and the conviction to do the right thing. Ford’s proud of its accomplishments and is eager to keep the tradition of transforming plants and recycled materials into vehicle parts. Learn more about our range of vehicles that are driving change in the world today.