“Ford has just introduced a new car part made from recovered fishing nets, or “ghost gear,” and the company is billing it as the first ever use of recycled plastic from the ocean by the auto industry. That’s sure to catch the attention of other automakers eager to make an impression on the car-buying public. Ford is already one step ahead with plans to introduce a whole list of parts made from recycled ocean plastic, but it looks like there is plenty of wiggle room for others to pile on.
It’s easy to assume that Ford’s new recycled plastic car part is a publicity stunt. After all, it’s just a wire harness clip, it only weighs five grams, and it probably costs a lot more to manufacture than similar items made from virgin plastic. After all, somebody has to go out in the ocean, find some discarded fishing nets, haul them back to shore, clean them, dry them, and process them into pellets that can be molded into the shape of a wire harness clip.
That sounds like an awful lot of work for one wire harness clip, but Ford actually expects to save money on the item. According to the company, the recycled plastic clip costs 10% less than the standard variety and it involves less energy on the manufacturing end, too.
And, look at all the free publicity they squeezed out of one wire harness clip. Seriously, just look at it.
So Much Fuss Over One Recycled Plastic Clip From The Ocean
What a difference a year makes. Ford has introduced the new recycled plastic clip on the Bronco Sport, where it will serve duty as the part that holds the wires in place leading to the side air bags of the car.
The new part, though tiny, has cast a shade of greenliness all over the Bronco. That is quite a turnaround from just one year ago, when our friends over at Vice were calling the newly relaunched Bronco family an “obscene monument to climate denialism,” on account of the line’s oversized footprint and shrimpy gas mileage.
Perhaps Vice will revisit the issue soon. Ford began teasing an electric Bronco as early as July 2020, and it teased us again last spring. More recently, our friends over at Ford Authority noticed that the company has been showcasing the Bronco alongside two oversized electric vehicles it has been enthusiastically promoting, the F-150 Lightning pickup and the E-Transit van.
To ice the Bronco electrification cake, earlier this week Automotive News drew some additional hints from Ford CEO Jim Farley regarding a common platform for its electric pickup trucks, presumably to include the Bronco line
If the electric Bronco does happen, chances are that it will sport additional recycled parts beyond one pair of wire harness clips made from plastic harvested from the ocean. Plans are in the works for transmission brackets, wire shields, and floor side rails made from recycled ocean plastic, along with other parts to be named later.
That’s just the latest in Ford’s efforts to find alternative sourcing for car parts, including bio-based sources as well as hard-to-recycle waste such as spent 3-D printing powder.
Recycled Plastic From The Ocean Finds Its Footing
In addition to saving on cost, Ford asserts that the new recycled plastic clip meets virgin plastic on performance. That’s also quite a turnaround compared to just a few years ago.
In the past, uses for recycled plastic were limited due to inferior performance. Generally, most plastics were downcycled for use in carpet fiber, fabric and the like. However, recent improvements have enabled recycled plastic to bust into new markets. The performance bar could be set even higher if and when next-generation recycling technology gets to market, in which plastics are broken down into chemical building blocks for reassembly.
That brings us around to DSM Engineering and Materials, and Hellermann Tyton, which are the two firms responsible for collecting the ghost gear and transforming it into wire harness clips….”
View the whole story here: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/12/13/ford-takes-giant-baby-step-with-one-tiny-recycled-plastic-car-part/