Researchers with New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute are exploring ways to combine the chile plant itself with plastics.

Wood-plastic composits already are a mainstay in the construction industry.

But Delia Valles-Rosales, an associate professor in the industrial engineering department, says she believes manufacturers could use chile plants for the composite material, according to a news release.

Currently, the discarded plant material is discarded or used as cattle feed.

Her team is exploring the best ratios of wood versus plastic, tension testing, degradation over time and cost analyses.

If everything works out, it could be a boon to local chile growers.

Since chiles are season, Valles-Rosales' team also is investigating other byproducts, such as from cotton, branches from pecan trees and even pecan shells themselves.