After becoming the first car manufacturer to use the Repreve recycled fibres in its seating fabric, Ford has announced it will divert about two million post-consumer plastic bottles for use in the new Focus Electric and other new vehicles for the next model year.
The Focus Electric contains Repreve-based fabrics that are made from about 22 recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles in each car, the first Ford vehicle to have an interior made from 100% clean technology.
The Repreve seat fabric is a polyester fibre made from a hybrid blend of recycled materials, including post-industrial fibre waste and post-consumer waste such as the plastic water bottles made of PET.
Ford and Unifi will help collect some of the bottles destined for Ford vehicles by recycling plastic bottles from the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) taking place in Detroit in early January and the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas later in the month.
“Ford is committed to delivering vehicles with leading fuel efficiency while targeting at least 25 percent clean technology in interior materials across our lineup,” said Carol Kordich, lead designer of Sustainable Materials for Ford. “The Focus Electric highlights this commitment as Ford's first gas-free vehicle, and the first in the automotive industry to use branded Repreve."
“After decades of education, the United States PET bottle recycling rate is only at 29%, about half the rate of Europe," added Roger Berrier, president and COO of Unifi Inc “We hope this recycling initiative with Ford will help raise visibility around the importance of recycling with a goal to drive recycling rates to 100%, diverting millions of plastic bottles from entering the waste stream and potentially back into Repreve-branded fibres.”
The Focus Electric, Ford's first all-electric passenger car, started production in December 2011 at the company’s Michigan Assembly Plant.
In 2009, Ford insisted that fabric suppliers use a minimum of 25% recycled content for all 2009 and beyond model year vehicles. Since then, 37 different fabrics meeting the requirements have been developed and incorporated into Ford vehicles.
Examples include soy foam seat cushions and head restraints, wheat straw-filled plastic, castor oil foam in instrument panels, recycled resins for underbody systems, recycled yarns on seat covers and natural-fibre plastic for interior components.