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How Ford Is Turning Tequila Byproducts Into Car Parts

One man's trash is another man's new car

Agave plants aplenty
Agave plants aplenty

Car companies and liquor brands don't make the most sensible bedfellows, for obvious reasons. But Ford and Jose Cuervo just announced a partnership that, however surprising, seemingly makes a lot of sense: They're figuring out how to make automotive parts from byproducts of the tequila-making process.

Only the liquid from the heart of the agave plant is actually used to make tequila, which means distilleries produce a lot of waste. According to a press release, the auto maker is turning the leftover plant fibers into bioplastics that can be used to make car components like wiring harnesses, HVAC units, and storage units. The material is sustainable and more eco-friendly to produce, plus it's highly durable and weighs less than other materials, meaning it could make lighter cars that burn less fuel.

It's also helping Jose Cuervo with its own sustainability initiative: As the Detroit News explains, "A small percentage of the leftover fibers are used as compost or sold to local artisans to make crafts or agave paper, but a majority of the remnants are usually burned or thrown away. Now, Ford is able to pay for the materials and provide the local farmers a new revenue stream." The company harvests two to three hundred tons of the plant per day, meaning the supply of plant fibers is more than plentiful.

Ford already uses a number of other plant-based materials in its cars, including coconut fiber and rice hulls.

Jose Cuervo Could Help Lighten Up Fords [The Detroit News]

Ford, Jose Cuervo Team Up to Make Car Parts Out of Agave [Business Wire]

Meet the Entrepreneurs Making Food Waste Edible (and Profitable) [E]