Michigan and Jalisco –Ford Motor Company and Jose Cuervo, the world’s largest tequila distiller, will use byproducts of agave cactus, the main ingredient of tequila, to manufacture bioplastic components for Ford vehicles. From Detroit, Ford’s senior technical leader for sustainability research department, Debbie Mielewski, said that a typical car has about 400 pounds of plastic, and that Ford has been using biomass to produce bioplastic components for its cars since 2000, including materials made from soy foam, castor oil, wheat straw, kenaf fiber, cellulose, wood, coconut fiber and rice hulls. Mielewski noted.
According to the United Nations Environment Program, 5 billion metric tons of agricultural biomass waste is produced annually.
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Tequila is manufactured in the State of Jalisco, Mexico and is a water-intensive process, and leaves mountains of plant fiber, known as bagasse, which are difficult and expensive to dispose of in central Mexico’s arid climate. The agave cactus typically requires 7 years before reaching harvest stage, after which the plant is roasted and ground for distilling.
Ford and Jose Cuervo, are testing the bioplastic for use in vehicle interior and exterior components such as wiring harnesses, HVAC units and storage bins. Success in developing a sustainable composite could reduce vehicle weight and lower energy consumption, while cutting back on the use of petrochemicals and the impact of vehicle production on the environment.