Here at Cars.com's headquarters in Chicago, we are bound by local tradition to refrain from putting ketchup on our hot dogs — but we'll certainly consider putting it in our cars if it's more palatable to the environment. Condiment giant H.J. Heinz Co., maker of the iconic ketchup brand, has made a seemingly unlikely pairing with Ford to study the use of tomato fiber in developing more sustainable, composite bio-plastic materials for vehicles. Researchers are testing the materials' durability for wiring brackets and storage bins, according to Ford.
The project began two years ago when Ford joined forces with Heinz, Coca-Cola, Nike and Procter & Gamble to accelerate the development of a 100 percent plant-based plastic to replace petroleum-based packaging materials. Heinz researchers had been looking for ways to recycle and repurpose peels, stems and seeds from the more than 2 million tons of tomatoes the company uses each year to make ketchup, according to 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," Ellen Lee, Ford plastics research technical specialist, said in a statement.
So, will Heinz-sight be 20/20 and tomato fiber become the bio-plastic ingredient of the future? If so, the bio-friendly initiative could have other automakers and food manufacturers running to … ketchup.
Cars.com photo composite by Jennifer Geiger; Nabeel Zytoon/Hemera/Thinkstock