Sustainable Materials

The choice of materials used to make an automobile is an important driver of its sustainability across all life cycle stages and throughout our value chain. Material selection can influence the safety, fuel economy and performance of the vehicle, as well as the options available to recycle or reuse the vehicle’s components at the end of its life.

A material can be more or less sustainable based on a number of factors, including its origin (virgin, renewable or recycled), the natural and human resources and manufacturing methods used to process it, the emissions produced throughout its life cycle, and its application.

Ford’s Sustainable Materials Strategy

We consider the impacts of materials at every stage of a vehicle’s life cycle

We are increasing more sustainable materials and eliminating undesirable materials:

Increase renewable materials

  • Improve resource efficiency by replacing petroleum and other nonrenewable resources with plant-based materials

Increase recycled materials

  • Improve resource efficiency by recycling consumer and industrial waste
  • Expand closed-loop recycling as much as possible

Increase lightweight materials

  • Improve vehicle fuel efficiency by expanding use of lightweight materials

Decrease socially unsustainable materials

  • Use conflict-free minerals while continuing to support responsible mineral sourcing
  • Reduce use of rare earth elements and scarce materials

Decrease materials with negative environmental or human health impacts

  • Substances of concern
  • Allergens
  • VOC-emitting materials
  • Rare earth elements and scarce materials

We define sustainable materials as materials obtained by socially sustainable means, with lower environmental impact, and that provide performance equivalent or superior to existing materials. We take a holistic and life cycle approach to the materials used in our vehicles by:

  • Choosing more sustainable materials, increasing our use of more sustainable materials, such as recycled, renewable and lightweight materials that improve environmental and social performance.

  • Reducing undesirable materials that have negative social, environmental or human health impacts. We are working across three main areas:

    • Improving vehicle interior air quality and using allergen-tested materials
    • Eliminating substances of concern
    • Reducing the use of conflict minerals and rare earth or scarce materials
  • Reducing end-of-life impacts by improving the recyclability of our vehicles, including working on closed-loop materials recycling – a process through which we recycle the materials from our auto parts right back into the same use – and participating in vehicle take-back programs where applicable. Our work to eliminate substances of concern also improves vehicle end-of-life impacts.

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