Ford Goes Greener for Plastics

Debbie Mielewski, Senior Technical Leader, Materials Sustainability, Ford Motor Co., and her colleagues are working at finding bio-materials that can enhance the parts produced for the company’s cars and trucks.

focus Sustainability and Recycling Summit) the automaker and the ketchup maker are working together on finding the ways and means to use the skins from the more than two million tons of tomatoes that Heinz processes each year as fillers in composite materials that would be used by Ford for components in its vehicles. That’s right: tomato skins could be used in a Mustang or a Continental at some point in the not-too-distant future if Mielewski and her colleagues can make it work.

Looking for alternatives for “conventional” plastic materials is nothing new at Ford. Back in the 1940s, Henry Ford experimented with using soybeans as a source of plastics. In 1941 Ford built what could be considered something along the lines of what a Saturn would be in 1990: a steel frame covered with 14 bio-based plastic panels. Henry Ford was not only an industrialist but in many ways, was an agriculturalist.

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