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By Costas Pitas
LONDON, June 10 Auto maker Ford Motor Co
is looking to add a new environmental option to its tool box.
Ford said on Tuesday it was teaming up with ketchup maker
Heinz, owned by billionaire investor Warren Buffett's holding
company Berkshire Hathaway Inc and U.S. investment firm
3G Capital, to look at using tomato fibres in car production.
It is testing the use of dried tomato skins, a waste product
from making Heinz's famous red sauce, to form part of wiring
brackets or coin holders, hoping the use of more plant-based
plastic over petroleum-based materials will reduce the
environmental impact of car production.
"We're trying to make use of a by-product ... and get some
renewable and recycled content into our vehicles, while at the
same time reducing the weight," Ellen Lee, a research specialist
at Ford Plastics, told Reuters.
Lee said the less-than-attractive appearance of the material
meant it could so far potentially only be used for hidden parts,
such as under-hood plastics and shields in the underbody, but
the aim was to make it more pleasing to the eye in future.
Ford began working with Heinz, Coca-Cola Co, Nike Inc
and Procter & Gamble Co nearly two years ago to
speed up the production of plant-based plastics.
Lee said aside from tomatoes, materials to be found in cars
in the future could come from coconuts, the hard covering on
grains of rice, dandelion roots and even trees, as part of
innovative attempts to find sustainable alternatives.
(Editing by David Holmes)