You may soon be driving a car made from tomatoes. Not the good parts of tomatoes, the leftovers: skins, seeds and stems. Two giants in their industries, Ford Motor Company and H.J. Heinz Company, recently announced a collaboration to do two things: find a way to make use of natural waste, and create a sustainable bioplastic material for vehicles. On Ford’s part, the goal is to cut down on the use of petrochemicals, which are as bad as they sound, and lessen the environmental impact of automotive production.
The Ford researchers are currently testing the material’s durability for possible use in a vehicle’s wiring brackets and those plastic storage bins you find under your car stereo that are overflowing with all of your change and gum wrappers. You know, the sexy stuff.
Heinz initiated the project. They were looking for creative ways to deal with the waste created from producing their famous ketchup, which requires more than a staggering two million tons of tomatoes annually.
Besides tomatoes, Ford is also noodling with other biobased fabrications. A few that are already on the line: cellulose fiber–reinforced console components, rice hull–filled electrical cowl brackets and soy–foam seat cushions and head restraints.
The tomato-hued material is still under wraps, but the project continues to move forward. It makes you wonder: What could they do with kale stems?