Bronco Sport Is First Vehicle to Use Parts Made of 100% Recycled Ocean Plastic
For more than 20 years, Ford has been using recycled plastic to build vehicles. Now, the company joins the ranks of those pulling plastic from the ocean to make products. In the process, they’ve become the first automaker to use 100% recycled ocean plastics to produce automotive parts.
Ghost Gear to Good Products
Wiring harness clips in Ford Bronco Sport models are made of ocean-harvested plastic – things like trashed equipment from the fishing industry, commonly referred to as “ghost gear.” The plastic material is collected from the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea by DSM Engineering Materials. While small, the parts represent a large first step in the company’s plans to produce other parts of recycled ocean plastics on other models.
Up to 13 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, threatening marine life and polluting shorelines, according to global nongovernmental organization Pew Charitable Trusts. Much of that is attributed to the fishing industry, which has come to rely on plastic fishing nets and other equipment because of the durability, light weight, buoyancy and low cost of the material. Those same qualities contribute to creating ghost nets, a fatal and growing threat to marine life. Ghost gear comprises nearly 10% of all sea-based plastic waste, entangling fish, sharks, dolphins, seals, sea turtles and birds.
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 saltwater and sunlight, the material is as strong and durable as petroleum-based clips, Ford testing shows, and required less energy to produce.
The process begins with DSM harvesting discarded nylon fishing nets. The plastic is washed of saltwater, dried, and extruded to form small pellets, which are then injection-molded by supplier HellermannTyton 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.
“As a global leader in cable management innovation, HellermannTyton strives for eco-friendly ways to pave the path to a more sustainable future,” said Anisia Peterman, HellermannTyton’s automotive product manager. “Developments like this do not come easy, so we are proud to collaborate with Ford in support of a unique product solution that contributes to healthier oceans.”