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Ford, Unifi to recycle 2M plastic bottles back into the new 2012 Focus Electric and other vehicles

6 January 2012

Ford, through the use of REPREVE, a recycled polyester yarn made by Unifi, plans to divert about 2 million post-consumer plastic bottles for use in the new Focus Electric and other new vehicles for the next model year. The Focus Electric contains REPREVE-based fabrics that are made from about 22 recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles in each car.

The REPREVE seat fabric is a polyester fiber made from a hybrid blend of recycled materials, including post-industrial fiber waste and post-consumer waste such as the plastic water bottles made of PET. Using REPREVE also reduces energy consumption by offsetting the need to use newly refined crude oil for production.

Ford is committed to delivering vehicles with leading fuel efficiency while targeting at least 25 percent clean technology in interior materials across our lineup. The Focus Electric highlights this commitment as Ford’s first gas-free vehicle, and the first in the automotive industry to use branded REPREVE.

—Carol Kordich, lead designer of Sustainable Materials for Ford

After decades of education, the United States PET bottle recycling rate is only at 29 percent, about half the rate of Europe. We hope this recycling initiative with Ford will help raise visibility around the importance of recycling with a goal to drive recycling rates to 100 percent, diverting millions of plastic bottles from entering the waste stream and potentially back into REPREVE-branded fibers.

—Roger Berrier, president and COO of Unifi Inc.

Currently Ford vehicles are approximately 90 percent recyclable at end of life. By using recycled content in its vehicles and ensuring its parts are recyclable, Ford is leading the industry in recycling efforts. Ford’s goal is to have its vehicles be 100% recyclable.

In 2009, Ford mandated that fabric suppliers use a minimum of 25% recycled content for all 2009 and beyond model year vehicles. Since then, 37 different fabrics meeting the requirements have been developed and incorporated into Ford vehicles.

Examples include soy foam seat cushions and head restraints, wheat straw-filled plastic, castor oil foam in instrument panels, recycled resins for underbody systems, recycled yarns on seat covers and natural-fiber plastic for interior components.

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