From the Recycling Bin to the Underbody Skin; Ford Upcycles Over 1 Billion Plastic Bottles Every Year for Vehicle Parts


Saving the environment isn’t just about reducing emissions, at Ford the company is upcycling more than 1 billion plastic bottles every year and incorporating them into parts for all their models. On average a total of 250 bottles go into each vehicle. Incredible.


So, how does it work? How do plastic bottles wind up in the impressive new lineup of Fords? Well, the bottles are actually used in the underbody shields on all of Ford’s cars and SUVs and they are used in the wheel liners on all F-Series trucks.


It’s a next level idea, and it wasn’t random. Ford was looking for a durable, high performing material and it just so happened that recycled plastic bottles fit the bill.


“The underbody shield is a large part, and for a part that big, if we use solid plastic, it would likely weigh three times as much,” said Thomas Sweder, design engineer, Ford Motor Company. “We look for the most durable and highest performing materials to work with to make our parts, and in this case, we are also creating many environmental benefits.”


Of course the underbodies aren’t made from raw plastic bottles, that probably wouldn’t work too well. There is actually a long process that takes the bottle from the bin to the skin. When they’re thrown into a recycling bin they’re collected with thousands of others and then shredded into fine pieces. This scrap is sold to suppliers who then blend it into other plastics and make a sort of plastic textile. It’s this material that goes into every Ford.


Because of how light weight these recycled plastics are, they’re absolutely perfect for the creation of underbody shields, under shields, front and rear arch liners, and more parts that improve the vehicle's aerodynamics. Furthermore, the plastic material was essential in creating the all-new 2020 Ford Escape’s near silent interior!


Compliments to its light weight, the recycled plastic is perfect for the creation of  These plastic shields are paramount for the all-new 2020 Ford Escape’s near silent cabin.


“Ford is among the leaders when it comes to using recycled materials such as this, and we do it because it makes sense technically and economically as much as it makes sense for the environment,” Sweder said. “This material meets all of our robust specifications for durability and performance.


Hopefully with Ford leading the way, other manufacturers will take some initiative in recycling some of the unused plastics that would otherwise wind up in a landfill, waterway, or ocean.

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