Ford To Use Recycled Bottles In Car Seat Fabric
January 8, 2012

Ford To Use Recycled Bottles In Car Seat Fabric

One popular American automotive manufacturer has announced plans to use recycled plastic to create upholstery for the car seats in some 2012 vehicles.

According to Chris Woodyard of USA Today, Ford Motor Company has announced that they will use approximately two million plastic bottles to create the car-seat fabric for the 2012 Focus Electric and select other automobiles during the current model year. Each car, truck, or SUV will consist of an average of 22 recycled bottles, Woodyard added.

CNET's Liane Yvkoff says that the Focus will feature a type of seating material known as Repreve. Repreve, which is manufactured by North Carolina-based fabric producer and processor Unifi, is "a blend of post-industrial fiber waste and post-consumer waste such as the plastic water bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET)," she says.

Woodyard says that, according to Ford, approximately 29% of the plastic bottles are recycled. Furthermore, Yvkoff says that Ford and Unifi will be collecting plastic bottles at both the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and that those bottles will be recycled and turned into upholstery for the Focus EV.

"Ford is committed to delivering vehicles with leading fuel efficiency while targeting at least 25 percent clean technology in interior materials across our lineup," Carol Kordich, lead designer of Sustainable Materials for Ford, said in a statement Thursday. "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 percent, about half the rate of Europe," added Unifi President and COO Roger Berrier. "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 percent, diverting millions of plastic bottles from entering the waste stream and potentially back into Repreve-branded fibers."

According to the company's press release, the new seat fabric will reduce energy consumption by countering the need to use newly-refined crude oil during the production process.

"The move seems a little gimmicky, but it's not the only way that Ford is lowering its carbon footprint from manufacturing," Yvkoff said. "Many vehicles also include soy foam seat cushions and head restraints (headrests), wheat-straw-filled plastic, castor oil foam in instrument panels, recycled resins for underbody systems, recycled yarns on seat covers, and natural-fiber plastic for interior components."


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