When most of us think about what a car is made of, we think of strong metals, durable rubber, and molded plastics that will hold up under extreme conditions, and years of wear and tear. That’s why the idea that Ford could be using tomato skins to make parts for their cars in the near future sounds a little far-fetched. Even so, the car maker is teaming up with the H.J. Heinz Company on a project they hope will result in exactly that.
The maker of Heinz ketchup uses more than 2 million tons of tomatoes each year to make their well-known product. In addition to the parts of the tomatoes they use, there are also tons of skin, stems and seeds that, until now, were left behind for disposal. The two companies are in the early phases of developing a process that will use the waste to create bioplastics that are strong enough to use in some of the applications of Ford vehicles. The material they hope to create will be lightweight and meet the requirements set by Ford to use in their vehicles, particularly for wiring brackets and storage bins.
Reducing the Overall Environmental Impact
If Heinz and Ford are successful at meeting their goal, Ford will be able to reduce their reliance on petroleum-based plastics in its cars. Ford Motor Company has long had an interest in finding alternative resources for materials that will allow them to reduce their overall environmental impact, while still allowing them to make vehicles that meet the demands of today’s drivers.
While customers shopping for cars for sale at the Ford dealerships are not likely to seek out the vehicles that have the new materials implemented in their design, they might be surprised to learn that those already on the car lots already have features that are made from plant-based plastics.
Ford already uses alternative materials in electrical cowl brackets that are filled with rice hulls, along with console components that have been reinforced with cellulose fibers, as well as soy-foam cushions.
Sustainability at the Heart of the Tomato Choice
More companies are looking to sustainable materials in the creation of all types of products. By teaming up with Heinz, Ford has the assurance that the tomato fibers they use will continue to be available as a byproduct of the ketchup-making process. This would result in a reduction of the petrochemicals used in manufacturing, as well as the impact of vehicles on the environment.
In addition to Heinz, Ford has also been collaborating with the Coca-Cola Company, Nike, and Procter & Gamble for almost two years, in an attempt to accelerate the development of a plastic that will be 100% plant-based. This material could be used for fabric, packaging, and many other uses, with a lower impact on the environment than from those materials in existence today.
The commitment by the Ford Company to reduce, reuse, and recycle is part of their global sustainability strategy. Buyers can appreciate the dedication of the company that goes into putting more environmentally-friendly vehicles on the Ford dealership lots.
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