Tomatoes as sustainable materials for vehicles?

Ford and Heinz work to create sustainable materials from tomato waste

Ford and Heinz work to create sustainable materials from tomato waste

You have to hand it to Ford Motor Company. They seem to be at the top when it comes to innovation and creative thinking.

Their latest venture has them  collaborating with Heinz, Coca-Cola, Nike and Procter & Gamble to further the development of a 100 percent plant-based plastic that can be used to make everything from fabric to packaging and with a lower environmental impact than petroleum-based packaging materials currently in use. And that’s where tomatoes come into play.

Folks at Heinz were looking at ways to recycle and repurpose peels, stems and seeds from the more than two million tons of tomatoes the company uses annually to produce its best-selling product: Heinz Ketchup. Leaders at Heinz turned to Ford for help.

Ford-tomato infographicThe idea they came up with was to use dried tomato skins as the wiring brackets in a Ford vehicle or in the storage bin a Ford customer uses to hold coins and other small objects.

This is in line with Ford’s continuing quest to create more sustainable composite materials for its vehicles. It already utilizes recycled nonmetal and bio-based materials. After it  introduced cellulose fiber-reinforced console components and rice hull-filled electrical cowl brackets last year, Ford’s bio-based portfolio now includes eight materials in production. Other examples are shredded money, dandelions, coconut-based composite materials, recycled cotton material for carpeting and seat fabrics, and soy foam seat cushions and head restraints.

It will be fascinating to see what else these innovative thinkers come up with! American ingenuity is clearly alive and well.


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