Wiring harness clips in Ford Bronco Sport models are made of ocean-harvested plastic – commonly referred to as “ghost gear.” The strength and durability of the nylon material equals that of previously used petroleum-based parts but with a 10% cost savings and requiring less energy to produce. The small parts represent a large first step in the company’s plans to produce other parts of recycled ocean plastics on other models.
“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.”
Up to 13 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, threatening marine life and polluting shorelines, according to Pew Charitable Trusts, a global nongovernmental organization. Ghost gear comprises nearly 10% of all sea-based plastic waste, entangling fish, sharks, dolphins, seals, sea turtles and birds.
Invisible to vehicle occupants, the Bronco Sport’s wiring harness clips, which weigh about five grams, fasten to the sides of the Bronco Sport second-row seats and guide wires that power side-curtain airbags. Despite spending time in saltwater and sunlight, the material is as strong and durable as petroleum-based clips, Ford testing shows.
The process begins with DSM harvesting discarded nylon fishing nets. The plastic is washed of saltwater, dried, and extruded to form small pellets, which are then injection-molded by supplier HellermannTyton into the desired clip shape. Ford is already planning additional parts using recycled ocean plastics, including transmission brackets, wire shields and floor side rails – all stationary parts with strength and durability demands that the material can meet or exceed.