Quality Magazine

Seat Fabric in New Ford Focus Electric Uses Recycled Waste Materials

November 17, 2011

The new Ford Focus Electric features seat fabric made of recycled material that includes the equivalent of more than 20 plastic bottles per car.

The fiber, called Repreve, is made from a hybrid blend of recycled materials and manufactured by Unifi, Inc., a global sustainable textile solutions company.

Unifi officials say 22 plastic, 16-ounce water bottles are used in the seat fabric of a single Focus Electric. The figure is based on the amount of Repreve branded fiber used in the production of fabric in each vehicle.

The 2012 Ford Focus Electric also runs on battery power alone, requiring no gasoline and producing zero carbon dioxide emissions.

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.

Kordich said Ford is taking it a step further by mandating that fabric be 100% sustainable in vehicles with eco-conscious powertrains like Focus Electric.

Repreve fits the bill, she said, because it is a combination of post-industrial fiber waste and post-consumer waste, like the plastic water bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate plastic. Using Repreve also reduces energy consumption by offsetting the need to use newly refined crude oil for production.

Repreve meets all Ford performance requirements, said Kordich, and Ford already is considering other uses across its entire car and truck lineup.

Ford's "Reduce, reuse and recycle" commitment is part of the company's broader global sustainability strategy to reduce its environmental footprint while at the same time accelerating the development of advanced, fuel-efficient vehicle technologies around the world.

Last month, Ford announced it is using 25 20-ounce plastic bottles to make the carpeting in every all-new Ford Escape utility vehicle it builds. It's the first time Ford has used this type of carpeting in an SUV.

Over the past several years Ford has concentrated on increasing the use of nonmetal recycled and bio-based materials whenever possible, provided these materials are environmentally favorable in the specific application. 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.