The Ford car company has recently investigated the possibility of reusing olive branches and leaves that are discarded each year during the olive season for incorporation into the process of manufacturing vehicle parts in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

This trial has been carried out within the framework of the European LIFE COMP0LIVE project committed to the search for environmental improvements in the sustainable production of olives, with the use of biocomposites instead of plastics, committed to the circular economy.

The company is committed to analysing the possibility of using olive residues in the manufacture of vehicle parts, as it could reduce the amount of plastic used in the production of these parts, contributing to cleaner air in olive-growing areas by avoiding burning as a method of waste disposal.

Pruning residues from olive groves in Andalusia (Spain) were used in the trials. First, engineers at Ford’s European headquarters in Cologne, Germany, used advanced simulation technology to assess the applicability of olive trees in terms of durability, strength and malleability. They then proceeded to manufacture prototype footrests and boot parts from a material composed of 40% fibres and 60% recycled polypropylene plastic that was heated and injected into moulds to shape the selected part. Tests have shown the parts to be robust and durable and Ford is evaluating their extensive use with a view to contributing to the manufacture of the next production electric vehicle.

Ford, together with its partners around the world, is currently making quantitative progress on its strategic goals for environmental sustainability. Indeed, ‘The Road to Better’ is Ford’s commitment to building a more sustainable, inclusive and equitable transport future, where every person is free to move and pursue their dreams.

Finally, Ford-Werke GmbH (Germany) representative, Inga Wehmeyer, explained, “At Ford, we are always looking for ways to be more sustainable, and sometimes inspiration can come from the most unlikely places. By using olive tree waste, we have been able to replace a significant amount of petroleum-based raw materials in the interior parts. The sustainable fibres create a unique look on the surface that would be visible to our customers“. He further emphasises that “to achieve the perfect mix, we had to experiment with different proportions of waste material and polypropylene. It was hard work, but in the end it allowed us to produce a material that does not compromise on strength, durability or flexibility“.

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