In one of the more unlikely sounding business pairings, Ford Motor Company and H.J. Heinz Company are working together. Yes, the ketchup company. It seems that the by-products of Heinz Ketchup (tomato skins, stems and seeds) might be useful in making bio-plastic.
Heinz processes more than two million tons of tomatoes a year to make its ketchup. That adds up to a lot of left over tomato skins. Researchers think they might be able to turn the fibres in the waste products into plastic for wiring brackets or storage bins.
Sound far-fetched? Ford has been actively pursuing bio-plastics over the last few years. “We are exploring whether this food processing by-product 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.”
Ford is already using eight other bio-based materials, with ingredients ranging from rice to soy to coconut. Now if they could only find something useful to do with zucchini.