My self-inflicted guilt over my beloved sports car has become much like beating a dead horse. I have felt bad that my Ford Mustang is a gas-guzzling animal — but boy, is it fun to drive — yet I continue to use it constantly. Could my car really be that bad for the environment? I took to a report card issued by Ecology Center, a national referee of sorts on toxic chemicals in cars. Its second annual Automotive Plastics Report grades eight leading manufacturers on their plastics policies and practices. Ford’s overall grade was a breath of fresh air; it rated second to Toyota, maker of the ever-popular Prius. So, what would happen if I went to have my parts recycled? I looked at the difference in points between Toyota and Ford. Bio-based materials are definitely a strong suit of Toyota. With the brand’s use of Eco Plastic, a sugar and corn substance, and an industry first of creating a plant to produce it, Toyota made the interior much less wasteful after being stripped for parts. Not to be outdone, Ford has developed a soy-based foam, and seating made of bio-fabric, made with genetically engineered bacteria that “eat odors, absorb sweat, and continually regenerate dirt and dust repellents.” Still, Toyota’s reduction of unused plastic made it a winner. Cars still have a long way to go for less of a reliance on plastic, though. The report recommends that automakers take the following measures:
- Increase the use of sustainably sourced bio-based materials;
- certify all vehicles to an interior air quality standard; and
- accelerate efforts to eliminate problematic halogenated substances, such as PVC and brominated flame retardants.