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Mike Stevens | Jun, 11 2014 | 0 Comments

Ford has partnered with condiment king Heinz to develop a new bio-plastic derived from the two million tons of tomatoes used each year to make its famous Ketchup.

Bioplastics are nothing new - vegetable fats and oils, corn starch and pea starch are all used in existing types - but this will be a first for the tomato world.

The two companies, along with partners Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Nike, hope to transform the tomato skins, peels, stems and seeds - all byproducts in the creation of its sauces into useable plastics.

Heinz says it has long been exploring ways to recycle and repurpose these leftovers.

“We are delighted that the technology has been validated,” Heinz packaging R&D boss Vidhu Nagpal said.

“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 percent plant-based plastics.”

In Ford's case, the plastics could potentially be used in interior and exterior components for future models, while Heinz, Nike, Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble would focus on packaging and other consumer products.

"We are exploring whether this food-processing byproduct makes sense for an automotive application," Ford plastics research Ellen Lee said.

"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 already uses eight types of recycled and bio-plastics materials in various models, including coconut-based composites, rice hulls in electrical brackets, recycled cotton and soy foam seat cushions and head restraints.

Elsewhere, Toyota has reduced CO2 emissions from parts manufacturing by 20 percent through the use of bio materials, including soy-based seat cushions and other components.

BMW's new i3 uses a number of bio materials, and companies like Fiat, Mercedes-Benz and Mazda are also jumping on board.

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