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Ford Teams with Jose Cuervo to Develop Bioplastics from Agave Fibers

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Agave Fibers

In its latest endeavor to find new and sustainable methods for creating common materials for use in its product, Ford is turning to the biggest name in tequila for help.

Ford Motor Company is partnering up with Jose Cuervo, the world’s number one tequila brand, to investigate the viability of using agave plant byproduct to create bioplastics. These bioplastics are being tested for use in both the interior and exterior of Ford vehicles, implemented in components including wiring harnesses, HVAC units, and storage bins.

Early tests have proven that the material may hold real value due to its durability, aesthetic, and its ability to reduce vehicle weight and energy usage that would otherwise be devoted to the creation of plastics.

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“At Ford, we aim to reduce our impact on the environment,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, sustainability research department. “As a leader in the sustainability space, we are developing new technologies to efficiently employ discarded materials and fibers, while potentially reducing the use of petrochemicals and light-weighting our vehicles for desired fuel economy.”

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Agave is grown in a cycle of approximately seven years that ends when the heart is harvested for the purposes of being roasted, ground, and having its juices extracted. Jose Cuervo typically uses some of the remaining agave fibers for compost while the rest is used by local artists for crafts and agave paper. Now, some of these remnant fibers will be committed to Ford’s sustainable aims.

“Jose Cuervo is proud to be working with Ford to further develop our agave sustainability plan,” said Sonia Espinola, director of heritage for Cuervo Foundation and master tequilera. “As the world’s No. 1-selling tequila, we could never have imagined the hundreds of agave plants we were cultivating as a small family business would eventually multiply to millions. This collaboration brings two great companies together to develop innovative, earth-conscious materials.”

“There are about 400 pounds of plastic on a typical car,” added Mielewski. “Our job is to find the right place for a green composite like this to help our impact on the planet. It is work that I’m really proud of, and it could have broad impact across numerous industries.”

Earlier this year, Ford announced that it had become the first automaker to develop materials from captured carbon dioxide. Ford’s other sustainable materials include using recycled plastics for cloth seats, and its previous partnerships include an accord struck with Heinz in 2014 to develop materials from tomato fibers.

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