America’s egg and tomato farmers could soon help produce sustainable rubber tires for motor vehicles, according to researchers at Ohio State University who have discovered that food waste can partially replace the petroleum-based filler that has been used to manufacture tires.

Tests have reportedly revealed that rubber made with these new fillers exceeds industrial standards for performance, which may ultimately open up new applications for rubber.

Katrina Cornish, Ohio Research Scholar and Endowed Chair in Biomaterials at Ohio State, explains that the technology has the potential to solve three problems:

1. It makes the manufacture of rubber products more sustainable;
2. It reduces American dependence on foreign supplies;
3. It keeps waste out of landfills.

Cornish now has a patent pending for a method for turning eggshells and tomato peels into viable — and locally sourced — replacements for carbon black, a petroleum-based filler that American companies often purchase from overseas.

Another researcher, Cindy Barrera, a postdoctoral researcher in Cornish’s lab, found in tests that eggshells have porous microstructures that provide larger surface area for contact with the rubber, and give rubber-based materials unusual properties. Tomato peels, on the other hand, are highly stable at high temperatures and can also be used to generate material with good performance.