Recycling and upcycling materials is nothing new in the automotive industry. Ford has already announced their goal to become the first automaker to use 100 percent sustainable materials in its vehicles, and the Bronco Sport SUV is breaking new ground by including parts made from 100% recycled ocean plastic. Ford has been using recycled plastics for more than two decades, but this is their first time using ocean plastics. This material is most commonly comprised of lost or discarded fishing gear, known as “ghost gear.”

One example is the Bronco Sport’s wiring harness clips. Each weighs about five grams and they are unseen by vehicle occupants. Still, these vital components help guide and retain wires which run to crucial vehicle systems (like the side-curtain airbags). Ford researchers state that, despite time spent in the sun and salt, ocean plastics can be just as strong and durable as petroleum-based clips.

Currently, Ford uses aluminum scraps from their stamping plants for their vehicle, as well as post-consumer carpet and recycled tires.The manufacturer has also expressed interest in using other recycled materials, such as agave fiber (a byproduct of the tequila-making process), US currency taken out of circulation, and coffee chaff. Partnering with McDonald’s USA, the dried skin of the coffee bean can be used to reinforce headlamp housings in vehicles.

The introduction of parts made of recycled ocean plastic opens new opportunities and builds on a global effort to help reduce ocean debris that hampers sea life or, when harvested, further clutters landfills.