Heinz and Ford are teaming up to investigate repurposing leftover tomatoes to make car parts. While cars won’t technically be powered by ketchup, scientists at both companies are aiming to create wiring brackets and storage bins from leftover tomato skins, peels, stems, and seeds. The use of tomato fibers and dried tomato skins may eventually lead to composite materials for use in regular vehicle manufacturing.
Ford has been working closely with Coca Cola, Nike, Heinz, and Procter & Gamble for nearly two years to create a 100 percent plant-based plastic that can be used for fabrics or packaging. Although the research is still in the early stages, the technology has been validated as a potential alternative to petroleum-based packaging materials. "We are exploring whether this food processing byproduct makes sense for an automotive application," says Ellen Lee, plastics research technical specialist for Ford. "Our goal is to develop a strong, lightweight material that meets our vehicle requirements, while at the same time reducing our overall environmental impact."