Ford is recycling plastic bottles in their vehicles and turning them into carpets.
The world has a plastic problem. According to the UN, 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute. The vast majority of those bottles will eventually wind up in landfills, waterways, or the ocean. Untold billions of tons of plastic now litter the ocean, threatening both wildlife and the Earth as we know.
Plastic has gotten to be so common in our environment that scientists expect it to serve as a geological indicator for the Anthropocene era. That means when aliens eventually arrive and start doing archeological digs in the same we do to find dinosaurs, they’ll know they’re in the right spot for humans when they see a layer of plastic embedded in the rock.
So yea. Plastic is a big problem. But Ford has a partial solution: turn those plastic bottles into carpets for cars.
The Ford EcoSport subcompact crossover features floor mats and upholstery made from recycled plastic bottles. Each car has roughly 470 bottles-worth of plastic, and since its most recent redesign in 2012, Ford has recycled 650 million 500 ml plastic bottles. That’s an estimated 9,107 tons.
Which is a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated 8 million tons of plastic that winds up in the ocean every year, but at least it’s something.
“Consumers have a hugely increased awareness of the harm that simply discarding plastic can do--but we have long been on a mission to increase the proportion of recycled and renewable materials that are used in every new car we make,” said Tony Weatherhead, a materials engineer at Ford.
How does Ford do it? First, they shred the plastic bottles (including the caps) so that it’s just a bunch of tiny plastic flakes. Then, they melt the plastic at roughly 500 degrees F and then spins the resultant mass into a fine fiber no thicker than a human hair. The fibers are then balled yarn-like into something that can be woven into carpets and upholstery.
Ford now recycles 1.2 billion bottles per year using this method.
(via Ford Europe Blogspot)