‘Til Ford began using ketchup to build cars

Ford Tomato

How would you like to drive a car that’s built out of parts made from Heinz Tomato Ketchup? Well… you might just in a few years because Ford and the H.J. Heinz Company are now working together to develop a bio-plastic material for cars.

Apparently, the process of making tomato ketchup produces quite a lot of waste; 2 million tons annually to be exact. In Heinz’s case, this waste comes in the form of tomato skins, stems, and seeds. So, someone in the company came up with the brilliant idea of turning them into car parts instead of throwing them in the bin. That’s when they turned to Ford.

After some R&D, the great minds from both companies have figured that these these dried tomato skins could somehow be processed into sustainable, and probably recyclable composite materials. What this does is it lowers the environmental impact of producing new parts as compared to petroleum-based plastics that they currently use.

They’re thinking of using the new material for wiring brackets and interior storage bins to hold small coins or other doodads. Yummy… But before they push it for production, they still need to test the material’s durability of course.

“We are exploring whether this food processing byproduct makes sense for an automotive application,” said 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.”

The good guys at Ford (and H.J. Heinz) are obviously green-minded people and have made a substantial effort to lessen their environmental footprint. Aside from plastic parts made out tomatoes, Ford also uses rice hulls for cowl brackets, coconuts for composites, recycled cotton material for carpeting and seat fabrics, and soy foam for seat cushions and head restraints.

Perhaps there will come a time when you can munch on car parts when you get hungry on the road.

Would you like fries with that?

Ford Tomato Infographic