It’s no Margarita, but Ford and Jose Cuervo have a new mix in the works.
The automaker and spirits maker have teamed up to see if agave byproduct left over after tequila is made could be used to “develop more sustainable bioplastics to employ in Ford vehicles,” according to a Ford press release. The two are testing the material for use in vehicle interior and exterior components such as wiring harnesses, HVAC units, and storage bins.
Ford (F) reported that initial tests hold real promise, and developing sustainable products to use in its vehicles could reduce energy consumption, as well as decreasing petrochemical use and the overall impact of vehicle production on the environment.
After juices from the agave plant are extracted for distillation, Jose Cuervo uses a portion of the remaining agave fibers as compost for its farms, and local artisans make crafts and agave paper from the remnants, according to the press release. However, as part of Cuervo’s broader sustainability plan, it will find a new way to use its remnant fibers.
“This collaboration brings two great companies together to develop innovative, earth-conscious materials,” said Sonia Espinola, director of heritage for Cuervo Foundation and master tequilera.
Ford currently uses eight sustainable-based materials in its vehicles including soy foam, castor oil, wheat straw, kenaf fiber, cellulose, wood, coconut fiber, and rice hulls.
Byproducts from agriculture are often abundant but underutilized, even though the materials are relatively low cost. The use of agricultural byproducts—like agave waste—can help manufacturers offset the use of glass fibers and opt in for more sustainable, lightweight products, according to Ford.
“There are about 400 pounds of plastic on a typical car,” said 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.”