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For a More Sustainable Car, Ford Starts in the Kitchen


Ford Motor Company Sustainability Dinner

This week I got to join a small group of media for a Ford powered dinner created by Mudhen Chef Suki Otsuki at Dallas Farmer’s Market location. Chef Suki created a beautiful a one-of-a-kind meal featuring the sustainable materials found across Ford’s lineup of sustainable vehicles. If you’re thinking our meal was bland, think again!

Tyler Hill spoke to guests about the company’s commitment to greener cars.

Tyler Hill spoke to guests about the company’s commitment to greener cars.

  • Our menu for the night:
    Dip Duo: Edamame hummus & beat muchumara, with crudite & crostininis
  • Heirloom tomato Caprese lollipops with dandelion green pesto
  • “Loco moco” Beef sliders with coconut cauliflower rice
  • Pickled shrimp cucumber canapes
  • Dessert platter: chocolate mousse/mini carrot cakes/mini cobblers
  • Specialty beverages made with agave

Before we ate, Tyler Hill of Dallas’ regional offices gave a short presentation on Ford’s sustainability efforts and introduced us to some of the materials already being used, and more that are in the research phase. The Ford crew also set out several samples for us to touch and feel, and reading material on each one.

I’m really excited to follow along as see how many of the materials end up in Ford vehicles and when other automakers start following their lead!

Trivia: Did you know Ford vehicles are 95% recyclable?

Ford Sustainable Materials

Tomato Waste Used to Make Plastic

Tomato Waste Used to Make Plastic

Tomatoes: Researchers at Ford and Heinz are investigating the use of tomato fibers in developing sustainable, composite materials for use in vehicle manufacturing. Specifically, dried tomato skins could become the wiring brackets in a Ford vehicle or the storage bin a Ford customer uses to hold coins and other small objects.

Soy Foam Used in Ford Vehicles

Soy Foam Used in Ford Vehicles

Soybeans: Ford was the first automaker in the world to demonstrate that soy-based polyols could be used at high percentage levels to make foam capable of meeting or exceeding automotive requirements. Through its use of soy foam, Ford is able to reduce its petroleum usage by 5 million pounds annually and its carbon dioxide emissions by 20 million pounds annually.

This is one of the cool materials that is already in use. If you have a Ford vehicle, you may very well have soy seat cushions!

Also in use already, Wheat Straw Plastic

Also in use already, Wheat Straw Plastic

Wheat Straw: Ford Motor Company, in collaboration with academic researchers and supplier A. Schulman, is the first automaker to develop and use wheat straw-reinforced plastic in the storage bins of vehicles. This will reduce petroleum usage by some 20,000 pounds per year and reduce CO2 emissions by 30,000 pounds per year.

Coconut Can Be Used to Make Plastic. Who Knew?

Coconut Can Be Used to Make Plastic. Who Knew?

Coconut: Ford and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company are researching the use of coconut fiber reinforcement for molded plastic parts to reduce the use of petroleum and make the parts lighter and more natural-looking. The coconut coir, or husks, are a waste stream from Scotts’ soil and grass seed products. The team is investigating their use as a renewable material in Ford vehicles.

Rubber Made from Dandelion Roots Could Soon Be Used in Ford Vehicles

Rubber Made from Dandelion Roots Could Soon Be Used in Ford Vehicles

Dandelion Roots: Ford and Ohio State University are researching dandelions for potential use as a sustainable resource for rubber. A milky-white substance that seeps from dandelion roots is used to produce the sustainable rubber and could potentially find its way into plastic parts in Ford vehicles, including cup holders, floor mat and interior trim.

In a Ford Press release from July 19, 2016:

Ford Motor Company and Jose Cuervo ® are exploring the use of agave plants to develop a sustainable bioplastic material to incorporate in vehicles, giving the agave fiber byproduct a second chance at usefulness.

Researchers are testing the material’s durability and heat resistance for potential use in vehicle interior and exterior components such as wiring harnesses and storage bins

Success in developing the sustainable composite could reduce the weight of car parts, helping to improve fuel economy; the new material could alleviate the use of petrochemicals, decreasing the overall impact of vehicles on the environment

Curious about the Agave from Jose Cuervo? Here’s a fun little video for you!


A Few More Sustainably Products You’ll Find in Ford Vehicles

Ford began researching the use of sustainable materials in its vehicles in 2000. Today, the automaker uses several bio-based materials in its vehicles, and is testing many more for future applications including algae, tomato peel and carbon dioxide.

The work helps improve Ford’s environmental impact by reducing the use of petrochemicals and reducing carbon emissions while also light-weighting vehicles to reduce fossil fuel use.

Ford already uses several sustainable materials including:

Kenaf, a tropical plant in the cotton family, is used in the door bolsters of Ford Escape

REPREVE fabric, made from recycled plastic bottles, diverts more than 5 million plastic bottles from landfill annually. Ford most recently introduced REPREVE in F-150

Post-consumer cotton from denim and T-shirts is used as interior padding and sound insulation in most Ford vehicles

EcoLon post-consumer nylon carpeting is used as cylinder head covers in Ford Escape, Fusion, Mustang and F-150

Recycled plastic bottles are becoming floor carpeting, wheel liners and shields in several vehicles including Ford Transit and C-MAX

Recycled post-consumer tires are used in seals and gaskets

Rice hulls are used to reinforce plastic in Ford F-150 electrical harness

Soy-based foams are used as seat cushions, seatbacks and head restraints in Ford’s North American vehicle lineup

Wheat straw is used in Ford Flex to reinforce storage bins

Cellulose tree fibers are used in the armrest of Lincoln MKX. Used to replace glass-filled plastic, this industry-first material weighs 10 percent less, is produced 30 percent faster, and reduces carbon emissions


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1 Comment

  1. JL Eaton August 24, 2017

    Having attended a two-hour Smithsonian lecture on plastics last night, I was feeling pretty low about our petroleum-based plastic future.  Smithsonian researchers collect used plastics from around the globe, store them, and monitor how they deteriorate (among much other plastics work).  The researchers pointed out the critical missions that some plastics provide, and thus call for the absolute necessity of “not breaking down”, which then leads to the very crucial problem of not being bio-degradable. 
    Your blog article does much to encourage knowledge about the cellulose-based-plastics industry; and our learning about leading companies, such as Ford, that are working towards turning the ship away from petroleum-plastics in their vehicles.   Thanks much for the article!