What do soybeans, tequila, and pantyhose have in common?
FROM an early age, it was drilled into all of us that recycling is good for the environment.
Who hasn’t been through a newspaper drive, collected used cans or set aside water bottles?
To celebrate Global Recycling Day on 18 March, Ford Motor Company shed light on some of the surprising materials that make their way into the manufacture of cars and other products.
Recycling materials have significant benefits, and items with recycled components can be lighter, which further reduces their environmental footprint.
They are of equal or better quality than the virgin materials they replace and offer a host of environmental advantages, including diverting waste to landfill, reducing the depletion of natural resources, lowering energy consumption and cutting costs.
Soybeans have many uses, including in transportation.
Leftover soybeans are squeezed, pulped and transformed into foam for seat cushions and seat backs.
Ford introduced this innovation in 2007, and there are now 15 million vehicles on the road using its soy-based foam in its seats.
The use of soy foam decreases the dependence on petroleum, and therefore reduces CO emissions.
Cork comes from the bark of cork oak trees, the majority of which are grown in Portugal and Spain, and it takes nine years to gather a harvest.
From Europe, cork material finds its way all over the world, mostly to produce stoppers for wine and champagne bottles, and by recycling them, the useful life of the cork is extended.
The material is diverted from landfill and can be used to manufacture a range of everyday products, from automotive gaskets, floor tiles, to building insulation.
So, the next time you pop open bottle… the cork’s journey carries on when you dispose of it in the recycling bin.
Technically it’s the agave plant, from which tequila is derived, that can be repurposed as bioplastic material.
The agave ‘heart’ (it looks like a supersized pineapple) is roasted and pressed to extract the juices that will be distilled into tequila, and then the discarded fibre is mixed with plastic, which results in a composite material.
Ford recently teamed up with tequila brand Jose Cuervo® to produce vehicle components made with the agave composite.
Yes, you read that right: gum that’s already been chewed can be repurposed.
A UK company called Gumdrop has set up drop bins in cities such as London and in venues such as Legoland theme parks, to collect discarded chewing gum.
Old gum is recycled into mouldable plastic and re-used as plastic components in cars.
Pantyhose and tights are made from synthetic nylon blends, so it takes a long time (around 30 years) for them to decompose once they end up in landfill.
Recycled nylon is used for vehicle insulation, clothing, playground material and a host of other things.