Back in the 1920s, Henry Ford developed a product called Fordite, which was a mixture of wheat straw, rubber, sulphur, silica and other ingredients that was used to make steering wheels for his vehicles. Well, what comes around goes around, as the Ford of 2009 just announced that they are going to start using wheat straw-reinforced plastic in the 2010 Ford Flex. This new plastic contains 20% wheat straw bio-filler, which reduces petroleum usage by some 20,000 pounds per year, reduces CO2 emissions by 30,000 pounds per year, and represents a smart, sustainable usage for wheat straw, the waste byproduct of wheat. They are already using soy-based polyurethane foams for many of their seat cushions, so this is yet another step in the right direction.
While the image here of an interior storage bin made from wheat straw plastic may seem like a small start, Ford is also considering using it for center console bins and trays, interior air register and door trim panel components, and armrest liners. Not bad at all, Ford, not bad at all.