Sometimes being sustainable doesn’t require development of a new gadget or material, it means using what you’ve got.
Ford and Heinz have teamed up to use tomato fiber to make a more sustainable bio-plastic for car parts. The material uses waste from Heinz’s ketchup manufacturing process, which consumes roughly two million tons of tomatoes annually.
Not every part of a tomato is turned into ketchup, though, and the companies hope to find use for the leftovers. Specifically, Ford believes dried tomato skins can be used to make wiring brackets or the small storage bins drivers use to keep change and other kipple.
The tomato-based material is still in the early stages of research, and is part of a larger effort by Ford, Heinz, Coca-Cola, Nike, and Proctor and Gamble to develop a 100-percent plant-based plastic that could meet a variety of commercial needs.
This isn’t Ford’s first experiment with plant-based plastics. Last fall, it unveiled a Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid with interior surfaces made from the same PlantBottle plastic used by Coke.