Discarded egg shells and tomato peel could replace a harmful oil-based filler used to make tyres, preventing food waste and helping the environment.
And the new tyres are just as good as their less environmentally friendly counterparts, surpassing the American industrial standards for performance.
The oil filler we rely on at the moment is called Carbon black, which – unsurprisingly – gives tyres their colour. But scientists at The Ohio State University have found it can be partially replaced by ground-up eggshells and tomato peels, which would make tyres more sustainable and could slow down the pile-up in landfills.
As humble as powdered tomato and egg shell sounds, they’ve both been shown to improve rubber in different ways. Egg shells have microscopic structures that bind well to the material, while tomato peel can withstand high temperatures.
The new tyre could also help the food manufacturing industry. Tomatoes are grown with thick skins to protect them during transit, which are often peeled off and wasted before food production. American factories currently cart around 50 billion egg shells a year off to landfill, where they don’t break down.
“We’re not suggesting that we collect the eggshells from your breakfast,” says Katrina Cornish, whose product it is. “We’re going right to the biggest source.”
The scientists have a patent pending on the new product, and are still working on their ratios to get optimum tyres and adjust the colour of their new red-brown rubber.