Plastic in the ocean is a huge environmental concern, according to experts, and it’s growing rapidly. The new Ford Bronco Sport is doing its part by using wiring harness connectors made from 100% recycled ocean plastic, and it’s just the first step in what Ford hopes will be a massive sea change in the way the automaker sources its plastics.
It isn’t just littering and poorly contained landfills that introduce plastic pollution into the world’s saltwater bodies. Plastic also enters the ocean from sources like modern athletic fabrics, which lose some microplastic material to the world’s oceans each time they’re machine washed. Even the global fishing industry has begun using plastic nets and other plastic equipment that can easily end up in the ocean.
In all, Ford says that up to 13 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean from the land each year, citing research from Pew Charitable Trusts. That’s without taking into account oceanic plastic introduced by the fishing industry, which is estimated to represent about 10% of all sea-based plastic waste. Plastic nets are an especially great concern, as they often trap and kill fish, sharks, dolphins, seals, sea turtles, and even birds.
That’s where Ford has chosen to source the plastic for its 100% recycled ocean plastic wiring clips for the Ford Bronco Sport. A company by the name of DSM Engineering Materials harvests discarded nylon fishing nets from the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, processing the material into dried pellets that are then injection-molded by Ford supplier HellermonTyton into the form of the wiring harness connector.
The wiring harness connector, which clips onto the side of the second-row seat and powers the side-curtain airbags in the Ford Bronco Sport, represents the first automotive use of parts made from 100% recycled ocean plastics – and it’s just the beginning.
“It is a strong example of circular economy,” says Ford Vice President of Research Jim Buczkowski, “and while these clips are small, they are an important first step in our explorations to use recycled ocean plastics for additional parts in the future.”