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9th January 2012, Dearborn

Repreve warp knits in Ford Focus Electric

Unifi's Repreve recycled yarn is used in the Ford Focus Electric's warp knitted seating fabricCar manufacturing giant Ford is planning to divert approximately 2 million post-consumer plastic bottles for use in its new Focus Electric and other new vehicles in 2012 by using Unifi's Repreve recycled yarns in warp knitted seating fabrics and other textiles for the Focus Electric's interior.

The Repreve seat fabric is knitted from a polyester fibre made from a hybrid blend of recycled materials, including post-industrial fibre waste and post-consumer waste such as the plastic water bottles made of PET.

In 2009, Ford mandated that fabric suppliers use a minimum of 25% recycled content for all 2009 and beyond model year vehicles. Since then, 37 different fabrics meeting the requirements are said to have been developed and incorporated into Ford vehicles. Each Focus Electric car will contain Repreve-based fabrics made from approximately 22 recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles. The company says it is the first Ford vehicle to have an interior made from 100% clean technology.

"Ford is committed to delivering vehicles with leading fuel efficiency while targeting at least 25% clean technology in interior materials across our line-up," says Carol Kordich, lead designer of Sustainable Materials for Ford.  

The new Ford Focus Electric which went into production in December 2011"The Focus Electric highlights this commitment as Ford's first gas-free vehicle, and the first in the automotive industry to use branded Repreve."

"After decades of education, the United States PET bottle recycling rate is only at 29%, about half the rate of Europe," said Roger Berrier, president and COO of Unifi Inc.

Goal to drive recycling rate to 100%

"We hope this recycling initiative with Ford will help raise visibility around the importance of recycling with a goal to drive recycling rates to 100%, diverting millions of plastic bottles from entering the waste stream and potentially back into Repreve-branded fibres."

Ford and Unifi will help collect some of the bottles destined for Ford vehicles by recycling plastic bottles from the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) taking place in Detroit next week and the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, which also takes place next week.

According to Unifi, using Repreve also reduces energy consumption by offsetting the need to use newly refined crude oil for production. The technology is also said to meet all Ford design and comfort requirements to help ensure the Focus Electric and other vehicles meet the company's high performance standards.

"We aimed to make the Focus Electric the most overall sustainable vehicle available to consumers, from using clean technology to overall vehicle efficiency," said Carol Kordich.

Interior of the new Ford Focus Electric with Repreve seating fabricThe Focus Electric, Ford's first all-electric passenger car, started production in December 2011 at Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan. When full production is under way in March, the car's seat fabric could contain plastic bottles collected at NAIAS or CES.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Ford's ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle' commitment is part of the company's broader global sustainability strategy to reduce its environmental footprint while at the same time accelerating the development of advanced, fuel-efficient vehicle technologies around the world.

In addition to recycled yarns on seat covers, other examples of recycled materials used in the Focus Electric include soy foam seat cushions and head restraints, wheat straw-filled plastic, castor oil foam in instrument panels, recycled resins for underbody systems, and natural-fibre plastic for interior components.

Currently Ford vehicles are said to be approximately 90% recyclable at end of life. By using recycled content in its vehicles and ensuring its parts are recyclable, Ford says it is leading the industry in recycling efforts. Ford's goal is to have its vehicles be 100% recyclable.    

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