It wasn’t easy to achieve the durability standards for seat cushions, which need to rebound for the equivalent of 15 years. In early trials, the soy and petroleum materials separated, and the soy foam didn’t smell too good.
However, the team at Ford kept trying, and I was very pleased to see that the company is now celebrating 10 years since this ground-breaking step on the path to sustainability. Since 2011, soy has been a key material used in the seat cushions, seat backs and headrests of every vehicle Ford builds in North America.
So, 18.5 million-plus vehicles and half a trillion soybeans later, the company estimates it has saved more than 228 million pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. This is equivalent to the amount consumed by 4 million trees per year, according to North Carolina State University.
Ford has also began to develop other renewable materials for its vehicles and in some cases this has allowed for weight reductions, leading to better fuel economy.
Its production vehicles now feature eight sustainable materials — soy, wheat, rice, castor, kenaf (hibiscus), tree cellulose, jute and coconut. Debbie Mielewski writes in a recent press story: “As we continue to experiment, the list of renewable resources we are researching reads like an entire farm — wheat straw, tomato peel, bamboo, agave fibre, dandelions, even algae!”