What comes around goes around: Your discarded plastic water bottle may soon become part of your next car. Automakers are racing to make their vehicles more sustainable — the industry’s favorite buzzword — by turning environmentally unfriendly materials into seat cushions, floors, door panels and dashboard trims. First it was reclaimed wood. Then “vegan” leather. Now, plastic waste from the ocean, rice hulls, flaxseeds and agave are transforming the manufacturing process. “Everyone is awakening to the problems of plastic and waste,” Deborah Mielewski, a technical fellow of sustainability at Ford, told ABC News.

Ford in particular has been championing the use of renewable materials in its vehicles. In 2008 it replaced the petroleum-based polyol foam in its Mustang sports car with seat cushions made from soy, an industry first. More recently Mielewski and her team started examining how to transform some of the 13 million metric tons of ocean plastic, which threaten marine life and pollute shorelines, into parts for future Ford vehicles. The result? Wiring harness clips in the new Ford Bronco Sport that were once nylon fishing nets. “Two years ago there was a lot of publicity around ocean pollution and we felt an obligation to do something,” Mielewski said.

Ford acquires the recycled plastic from its supplier DSM, which collects the nets from fishermen who are paid to return them. The nets are harvested, sorted, washed and dried before they’re cut into small pellets and injection-molded into harness clips, which weigh about 5 grams and guide wires that power side-curtain airbags in the Bronco Sport. Mielewski said Ford is currently testing the recycled plastic’s durability for the Bronco Sport’s wire shields, floor side rails and transmission brackets.

To read the full story, visit https://abcnews.go.com/Business/car-made-recycled-plastic-future/story?id=81634993.
Author: Morgan Korn, ABC News
Image: Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images, ABC News