Ford Fusion is the first global vehicle program to use seat fabric made from recycled material, with the potential to recycle enough plastic bottles and post-industrial waste to make 1.5 million yards of fabric annually, the automaker says.
The amount of recycled material in each all-new Fusion (known as Mondeo in Europe and Asia Pacific) varies depending on region. In North America, 100 percent of the seat fabric in the Fusion Hybrid contains recycled material. Where available, Mondeo in Ford’s Asia Pacific and European regions has 43 percent recycled content.
Ford says the 2013 Fusion is the latest example of its commitment to use recycled material whenever possible. In North America, Ford has increased use of recycled yarns from zero in 2007 to about 66 percent of vehicle programs for 2013, the company says.
Carol Kordich, Ford lead designer of sustainable materials, says the idea is to one day have all Ford fabrics consist of recycled material.
Since the 2009 model year, any new seat fabric used in Ford vehicles must contain at least 25 percent recycled material.
Some of Ford’s most advanced vehicles — Focus Electric, Fusion Hybrid SE — already have fabrics with as much as 100 percent recycled content, the company says.
Overall, Ford uses a total of 41 fabrics from a handful of suppliers across 15 vehicle programs that vary by pattern, level of recycled content and purpose.
One of the companies, North Carolina-based Unifi, had developed a yarn branded Repreve, made from post-industrial and post-consumer waste such as clear, plastic water bottles. Prior to working with Ford, Repreve had been primarily used in the apparel and contract market segments.
Initially high costs were an issue with using Repreve, so Kordich worked with Unifi and Sage Automotive Interiors, Ford’s largest fabric supplier in North America, on a plan. Unifi would provide Repreve to Sage, which would use the yarn to make seat fabric and sell any waste (such as trimmings and bad dye lots) back to Unifi for reprocessing. Ford would also help collect clear, plastic water bottles and send them back to the Repreve Recycling Center.
Ford is currently helping collect and send 2 million plastic bottles to Unifi. Each Fusion contains the equivalent of up to about 40 clear, plastic bottles.
Last year, Ford began testing decommissioned US paper currency and a range of other recycled materials — including cellulose from trees, Indian grass, sugar cane, dandelions, corn and coconuts — for potential use in car seat cushions, insulation and other components.