We continue to use more plant-based materials to reduce our carbon footprint and our dependence on petroleum.
“Someday, you and I will see the day when auto bodies will be grown down on the farm.”
The environmental, economic and performance benefits of durable, plant-based materials include reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, vehicle weight and fuel consumption; lower manufacturing energy use and costs; reduced use of petroleum and non-sustainable resources; diverting waste from landfill; and the creation of new markets and revenue opportunities for farmers.
Why Renewable Materials Matter to Ford
Around 8 percent of all the petroleum oil used in the world each year goes to making plastic. Once used, up to half of all plastic is dumped into landfills. Much of the rest is burned, and millions of tons are dumped into our oceans; relatively little is recycled. In response to the ocean waste problem, our research team has recently initiated an effort to investigate automotive uses for ocean plastic.
Driven by concerns around cost, supply and environmental protection, Ford scientists are researching ways to replace petroleum oil as the main ingredient in plastic. We began researching the use of sustainable materials to rival and replace petroleum-based plastics in our vehicles in 2000. Having introduced the industry’s first soy-based foam in seat cushions and seat backs in 2006, our renewable materials program has now expanded to include a number of different renewable material applications, all of which meet strict performance and durability specifications.
We have implemented many world- and industry-first renewable materials, including wheat-straw storage bins, rice hull wiring harnesses and tree-based cellulose. These materials are lighter in weight, meet all durability and performance requirements, and provide new revenue streams for North American farmers. We have achieved all this while lowering GHG emissions and reducing petroleum consumption.