Detroit — Ford Motor Co. is keeping plastics involved as it moves toward sustainability.
The Dearborn, Mich.-based auto giant wants to have 20 percent renewable and recycled plastics in its vehicles by 2025, technical expert Alper Kiziltas said May 25 at the Injection Molding & Design Expo in Detroit.
With 700 pounds of plastic in a midsized vehicle, that's a big opportunity for sustainable materials. Increasing the amount of post-industrial and post-consumer recycled plastic and using bio-based content reduces exposure to commodity markets for virgin resin, Kiziltas said.
In the current automotive plastics market, polypropylene leads the way with a 24 percent market share, followed by thermoplastic polyolefin at 18 percent, nylon at 11 percent, polyurethane at 7 percent, PVC at 6 percent and ABS at 5 percent. Kiziltas said Ford is using some recycled or bio-based material with each of these resins.
In 2021, Ford used post-consumer nylon in a battery box and also used 50 percent post-consumer PP, ocean plastics and nanocellulose PU foam in various applications. The firm also is using sustainable fillers such as cellulose, hemp, agave and rice hulls, as well as recycled carpet and cardboard.
Basalt-based polymer composites are in development, and Ford also is making use of coffee chaff from McDonald's coffee.
"One of my colleagues said 'I drink six cups of coffee a day. Can we do something with coffee?" Kiziltas said.
Other sustainable products in the Ford supply chain are 3D printing waste powder, fishing nets and graphene nanoplatelets.
"There's huge potential for recycled applications," Kiziltas said.