- Ford is harvesting pollution from the ocean to make components for its cars.
- The Bronco Sport is the first vehicle to feature recycled ocean plastic in its build.
- Plastic accounts for up to 13 million tons of ocean pollution.
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Did you know that up to 13 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, threatening marine life and polluting shorelines?
According to Pew Charitable Trusts, a global non-governmental organisation, much of that is attributed to the fishing industry, which has come to rely on plastic fishing nets and other equipment because of its durability, lightweight, buoyancy and the low cost of the material. Those same qualities create ghost nets, a fatal and growing threat to marine life. Ghost gear comprises nearly 10 per cent of all sea-based plastic waste, entangling fish, sharks, dolphins, seals, sea turtles and birds.
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Ford steps in to reduce the impact of plastic on ocean life
Consumer products made from recycled ocean plastics already include everything from sunglasses and T-shirts to running shoes and yarn. Now, Ford is adding to its capabilities as an automotive leader in sustainability and is the first automaker to use 100 per cent recycled ocean plastics to produce automotive parts.
Wiring harness clips in new Ford Bronco Sport models are made of ocean-harvested plastic – commonly referred to as "ghost gear." The strength and durability of the nylon material equal that of previously used petroleum-based parts but with a 10 per cent cost saving and requiring less energy to produce. The small parts represent a significant first step in the Blue Oval's plans to build other parts of recycled ocean plastics on other models.
"This is another example of Ford leading the charge on sustainability," says Jim Buczkowski, vice president of research at Ford 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."
Small parts now will lead to more extensive parts in future
Invisible to vehicle occupants, the Bronco Sport's wiring harness clips, which weigh about five grams, fasten to the sides of the Bronco Sport second-row seats and guide wires that power side-curtain airbags. Despite spending time in salt water and sunlight, Ford testing shows the material is as strong and durable as petroleum-based clips.
The plastic material is collected from the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. Items produced using plastics collected from the oceans include many consumer goods, but automotive parts have not been on that list until now.
The process begins with harvesting discarded nylon fishing nets. The plastic is washed of saltwater, dried, and extruded to form small pellets, which are then injection-moulded into the desired clip shape.
Ford is already planning additional parts using recycled ocean plastics, including transmission brackets, wire shields and floor side rails – all stationary parts with strength and durability demands that the material can meet or exceed.
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