Ford Bronco Sport to Feature Wiring Harness Clips Made of 100% Recycled Ocean Plastic

It's a step in the right direction, but is it enough?

A Ford vehicle in the middle of the forest


The Ford Bronco Sport is aimed more at adventurous buyers than eco-conscious buyers, but Ford has announced it does have a new sustainability angle. The Ford Bronco Sport’s wiring harness clips are made from recycled ocean plastics. Ford says it is now the first automaker to use 100% recycled ocean plastics to build car parts.

According to Pew Charitable Trusts, a global nongovernmental organization, up to 13 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, which pollutes shorelines and harms marine life. Most of the plastic in the ocean comes from the fishing industry, which uses plastic fishing nets. Those same fishing nets and other pieces of discarded ghost gear have a significant impact on marine life. Ghost gear comprises nearly 10% of all sea-based plastic waste, entangling fish, sharks, dolphins, seals, sea turtles, and birds.

Ford is partnering with DSM Engineering Materials to help collect the ocean plastic from the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea and then turn the plastic into a high-performance polyamide called Akulon RePurposed. A supplier called HellermannTyton takes the pellets created by DSM and then turns them into the wiring harness clips for the Bronco Sport.

Graphic of how plastic is harvested for Ford Broncos


“As a global leader in cable management innovation, HellermannTyton strives for eco-friendly ways to pave the path to a more sustainable future,” said Anisia Peterman, HellermannTyton’s automotive product manager, in a press release. “Developments like this do not come easy, so we are proud to collaborate with Ford in support of a unique product solution that contributes to healthier oceans.”

Ford also says there are additional benefits of using recycled ocean plastic since the entire process to create the parts is 10% cheaper and uses less energy than petroleum-based parts. The recycled parts are also just as strong and durable. Drivers probably won’t ever see the recycled parts in the Bronco Sport, since the wiring harness clips are mounted on the side of the second-row seats.

Critics point out the wiring harness clips, while a positive step, is small in the big picture. Engadget notes:

This move could be an important step toward more sustainable car production. At the same time, it shows just how far Ford has to go. They're small parts in an SUV that's sold exclusively with a combustion engine inside — this would carry more weight if they were larger components in a hybrid or pure electric vehicle. Ford has vowed to further electrify its lineup and explore future uses of ocean plastic. Until that happens, though, this is more a hint of that future than a major milestone.

Ford says it hopes to find other uses for recycled ocean plastic, like for the floor side rails and transmission brackets, in the future. The automaker's press release notes: "wiring harness clips in Ford Bronco Sport are the first of many the company plans to produce using discarded plastic fishing nets."

Although this is the first time that an automaker is using recycled ocean plastics, this isn’t the first time that Ford has used recycled plastics to build various parts. Ford has been using recycled plastics for more than two decades and most recently Ford used recycled water bottles for underbody shields on the 2020 Escape. In 2019, Ford announced that it is using the equivalent of 250 bottles of recycled plastic in its vehicles.

The good news is that Ford isn’t the only automaker that has used recycled plastic, since Volvo has used recycled plastic from non-ocean sources for its XC60 SUV. Volvo also unveiled a concept version of the XC60 in 2018 that featured a tunnel console made from discarded fishing nets.