DSM Engineering Materials said Ford Motor Co., HellermannTyton, and DSM earned an Innovation Award from the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) for the use of Akulon RePurposed recycled ocean plastic in the Ford Bronco Sport.
This application was also recognized by Ford as the first of many potential uses for recycled ocean plastics in a major vehicle platform.
Ford uses wiring harness clips made of ocean-harvested plastic “ghost gear” in Bronco Sport models. Invisible to vehicle occupants, the wiring harness clips fasten to the sides of the Bronco Sport second-row seats and guide wires that power various features in the vehicle’s cargo area. Ford testing shows that the Akulon RePurposed material, despite having spent time in saltwater and sunlight, is as strong and durable as petroleum-based clips.
The Akulon RePurposed material is made using nylon fishing nets collected from the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. The nets are thoroughly cleaned and processed using a proprietary process to create a strong polyamide 6 (PA6) engineering material with performance comparable to new petroleum-based plastics. Each year, approximately 13 million tons of plastic waste end up in the world’s oceans.
Much of the waste culminates in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which covers an area twice the size of Texas and three times the size of France. Abandoned fishing nets are a growing part of this problem, and the World Wildlife Federation estimates they account for as much as 46 percent of the waste in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. DSM launched Akulon RePurposed PA6 in 2018 to help address this challenge.
“This is another example of Ford leading the charge on sustainability,” said Jim Buczkowski, vice president of research and Henry Ford technical fellow. “It is a strong example of circular economy, 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.”
“Solving the global challenge of ocean plastics will require our entire industry to step up and find innovative solutions to grow the circular economy,” said Lydia Swan, Commercial Director – Americas, DSM Engineering Materials. “We are very proud of the joint efforts of our team, Ford, and HellermanTyton to make this innovative use of recycled ocean plastics possible, and we look forward to finding additional opportunities to reduce ocean plastic waste.”
Today, the material is used in a wide range of applications including furniture, watches, and surfboards. As more customers seek to partner with DSM to address the challenge of reducing ocean plastic waste, numerous additional applications are currently under development.