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Using Sustainable Materials

The materials used in a vehicle is a key aspect of its sustainability, across all life cycle stages. We aspire to use materials with equivalent or superior performance but that have a smaller environmental footprint. This includes lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy use, less waste and a move away from plastics made from fossil fuels.

How We’re Driving Change

Creating New and Smarter Materials

Guided by our global materials strategy, we continue to be a leader in the research, development and integration of more plant-based, renewable and recycled content in our vehicles.

We aspire to use materials that have been obtained by sustainable means, with lower social and environmental impacts, and equivalent or superior performance to existing materials. Our ongoing research on closed-loop recycling and second-life use of components is supplemented by partnerships with other industries and the farming community to utilize their by-products.

Taking a holistic view of the materials used in our vehicles, the aspects we consider include its origin (whether virgin, renewable or recycled), the methods used to source and process it, the emissions generated throughout its life cycle, any health impacts associated with its use, and how it is disposed of at the end of its useful life.

Today, we’re proud to be exploring new materials using everything from tree cellulose to tomato skin and dandelion roots. We are also striving to use fewer materials and encouraging local sources to reduce their carbon footprint.

What’s in a Typical Vehicle?

Up to 40,000 parts...1,000 different materials...10,000 chemical substances...

  • 75% Metals (steel, aluminum, magnesium and titanium)
  • 17% Plastics, Elastomers, Textiles and Natural Materials
  • 4% Fuels and Consumable Liquids (engine oil, lubricants)
  • 3% Electronics, Ceramics, Glass and Other Compounds
  • 1% Miscellaneous (paint, adhesives, sealants, etc.)

The Sustainable Materials in Our Vehicles

Renewable and recycled: we’re developing a set of sustainable materials from resources as diverse as soybeans grown on the farm and post-consumer plastic bottles. Scroll to see all the different materials we are using.

  •  Recycled and Recyclable Materials
  •  Bio-Based Renewable Materials

Recycled Rubber

Made with material from post-consumer tires, recycled rubber is used in underbody covers in a range of Ford vehicles.

Recycled Aluminum

Made in the closed-loop recycling systems at some Ford factories, recycled and recyclable aluminum goes into the body frames of four series of North American Ford trucks.

Recycled Plastic Bottles

Diverted from landfill and processed at Ford factories, recycled plastic bottles are used to make floor carpeting and wheel liners in the Ford Transit and C-Max vehicles, as well as the REPREVE fabric used in the F-150.

Recycled Cotton

Made with the scrap cuttings from the making of T-shirts and denim jeans, the interior padding and sound insulation in most Ford vehicles contain recycled cotton.

Post-Industrial and Post-Consumer Recycled Materials

Maintaining appearance as well as performance, post-industrial and post-consumer recycled PET from water and soda bottles can be found in seat fabrics in 12 Ford vehicles. These materials would otherwise be slated for landfill.


Castor bean oil is used for the nylon fuel lines for most vehicles, and instrument panel soft touch foams on three vehicle lines. Post-consumer nylon carpeting is used in cylinder head covers on the Ford Escape, Fusion, Mustang and F-150.


Soy-based polyurethane foam is used in seat backs, cushions and head restraints in every North American-built Ford vehicle, while exterior mirror gaskets incorporate both recycled tires and soybean oil.

Rice Hulls

Rice hulls, a by-product of U.S.-grown rice grain, are used to reinforce plastic in the Ford F-150’s electrical harnesses.

Coconut Fibers

Fibers taken from coconut husks reinforce the plastic trunk liners of a number of Ford vehicles.

Cellulose-Reinforced Plastic

Using fibers from sustainably grown trees, cellulose-reinforced plastic has been used to replace fiberglass in the armrests of the Lincoln MKX.

Wheat Straw-Reinforced Plastic

Wheat straw, a waste by-product of wheat, is used to reinforce the plastic in the Ford Flex’s storage bins.


Molded plastic door parts in the Ford Escape incorporate kenaf, a species of hibiscus and a close relative to hemp.

Our Performance

Materials with Lower Life Cycle Impacts

We are using more recycled, renewable and recyclable materials, and working to eliminate substances of concern.

300 of our vehicle parts are derived from renewable materials

228 million pounds of CO2 has been saved from entering the atmosphere since we started using soybean-based foam

37,000 new F-Series truck bodies’ worth of high-grade aluminum scraps are recycled every month

Raw Materials Observatory launched by the Drive Sustainability partnership, a group of 10 global auto manufacturers including Ford