What do tomato sauce and car parts have in common? Quite a lot, if the creators of automotive transportation at the Ford Motor Company or the makers of tomato condiments like the H.J. Heinz Company are to be believed.

For almost two years researchers from the two companies joined by others from the Coca-Cola Company, Nike Inc. and Procter & Gamble have been trying to limit the amount of petroleum-based plastics being used in their products as well as finding a way to turn their organic waste into a plant-based plastic that they can use instead.

Heinz executives for their part have been trying to figure out how to take the leftover bits of the tomatoes and turn them into a plastic that would be durable and versatile enough to be used inside Ford’s cars. Every year Heinz uses more than two million tonnes of tomatoes to create its sauce leaving a large pile of peels, stems and seeds that it has no use for, but hopefully soon that won’t be the case.

“Although we are in the very early stages of research, and many questions remain, we are excited about the possibilities this could produce for both Heinz and Ford, and the advancement of sustainable 100% plant-based plastics,” said Vidhu Nagpal, associate director, packaging R&D for Heinz.

Ford is on a mission to use as much recycled bio-material in its cars as possible with coconut-based composite materials, recycled cotton material for carpeting and seat fabrics, and soy foam seat cushions and head restraints already being used in many of its vehicles.

It seems as though it may just be a matter of time before the humble tomato finds a way into your next Ford.

heinz_sustainability_r02[Source, Image – Ford]