“Using a soy-based foam gives us the opportunity to conserve natural resources and reduce our environmental footprint.”
The Ford Motor Company in the US is celebrating the tenth anniversary of an initiative that prevented the release of more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Ford replaced the seat foam previously made from fossil fuel-based materials with an alternative made from soybeans in 18.5 million of its Mustang cars, an eco-friendly move that has led the company to go through more than 578 billion soybeans.
Reportedly meaning no reduction in quality, the use of soybeans in its cars wasn’t new territory for Ford when it began in 2007. Four years previous the car giant was among the first to show its use of soy foams in its Model U concept, which featured soy-based seat cushions and resin composite rear bumper, while for the production of its very first car, the Model T, used around 27 kilos of soybeans in its paint and moulded plastic parts.
So successful was the move to soya that Ford took the decision to fit every Ford vehicle built in North America with soy foam for all seat cushions, backs and headrests.
Since those days, Ford continued to find ways to use sustainable products in the production of their trucks and cars – from coconut fibres that helped strengthen its resins to shredded denim used to insulate cars, the company also employed plant-based materials such as tomato peel, bamboo and algae for a variety of other uses.
Speaking in 2007, Ford’s technical leader for materials research, Debbie Mielewski, said: “Using a soy-based foam gives us the opportunity to conserve natural resources and reduce our environmental footprint.”
Speaking earlier this month, Mielewski said that the journey has not been straightforward, however, revealing that the material switch may not have been a success at all had it not for the passion of the head man at Ford. She said that trying to convince suppliers to do moulding trials was difficult, especially when petroleum oil prices have been low for so long.
“We may not have ever gone to market with soy foam if Bill Ford had not been at the helm,” she said. “It was a project that would only move forward with both a visionary and an environmentalist in the driver’s seat, so to speak, and we were lucky to have him there.”
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