You Say Tomato; We Say Tom-Auto


Photo credit: Eden, Janine and Jim

We all know that tomato ketchup is the just about the best thing ever invented but who knew that it could help make cars too?

Ketchup has long been the sticky, tomatoey goodness that we have added to hot dogs, hamburgers and other stuff to make them taste better. It is also great for disguising the taste of anything you have burnt in the oven. I have even seen people put it on their pizzas but that is quite frankly disgusting behaviour and completely uncalled for.

So what else is ketchup good for? Well, it makes for a vaguely convincing type of fake blood and it apparently can be used to repair damaged hair and make copper shinier. It can’t be used to make cars though, can it? Can it? Actually, no it can’t. However, the waste left over when tomato ketchup is made can be used.

Tomato skins, stems and seeds to make car parts

As strange as it might sound, a new idea from car manufacturer Ford uses the stuff left over from the making of ketchup to make car parts. These parts would otherwise be made of plastic, and the scheme is part of Ford’s plans to cut down on the amount of petroleum based products they use in the manufacturing process. The waste will be passed onto them by Heinz and is part of the car giant’s plans to find a “plant based plastic” to use.

Dried tomato skins, stems and seeds could be the rather exciting starting point for objects like storage compartments and wiring brackets in future Fords. As part of the research it has been revealed that Heinz uses a whacking great 2 million tons worth of tomatoes every year to make its ketchup. The remains which are then thrown away, will now be passed onto Ford to turn into car parts.

A Ford spokesman said: ‘Ford has increased its use of recycled non-metal and bio-based materials.’  Rice is used to make electrical cowl brackets introduced in the last year, Ford’s bio-based portfolio now includes eight materials in production.

‘Other examples include coconut-based composite materials, recycled cotton for carpeting and seat fabrics, plus soy foam seat cushions and head restraints.’

  • What else do you think we could recycle as car parts?