Coffee bean chaff incorporated in material to mold headlamp housing
Ford, a leader in the use of sustainable materials for over 20 years, is announcing a collaboration with McDonald’s to convert coffee bean waste into car parts.
Yes, you read this right. In a first of its kind collaboration, Ford Motor Company and McDonald’s will soon be giving vehicles (what Ford calls) a ‘caffeine boost’ by using part of a familiar staple in the morning routine, coffee beans, in vehicle parts such as headlamp housing.
Use of these kinds of renewable materials is not new to Ford. They already makes around 300 parts from renewable materials. Sustainable materials featured in production vehicles currently include soy, wheat, rice, agave, castor, tomato, hibiscus (kenaf), tree cellulose, jute and coconut.
Now there is going to be coffee, or more correctly, the dried skin of the bean known as chaff.
Every year, millions of pounds of coffee chaff – that naturally comes off during the roasting process – have been turned into garden mulch or charcoal in North America. Now Ford and McDonald’s will be providing a new use for a substantial portion of that material.
Ford and McDonald’s researchers have found that chaff can be converted into a durable product that can be used to reinforce vehicle parts. By heating the chaff to high temperatures under low-oxygen, mixing it with plastic and other additives and turning it into pellets, the material can then be formed into various shapes.
The chaff composite from McDonald’s meets the quality specifications for parts like headlamp housings and other interior and under hood components, which will help make Ford products about 20 percent lighter and provide up to 25 percent energy savings during the molding of parts. The heat properties of the chaff component are even significantly better than the currently used material, according to Ford.
“As we were looking for companies to collaborate with that match our forward-thinking vision and commitment to sustainability, McDonald’s commitment to innovation was impressive to us,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, sustainability and emerging materials research team. “Ford has been a leader in sustainable materials for over 20 years, and now is the time to jump start the closed loop economy, where different industries work together and exchange materials that are either side or waste products.”
McDonald’s is expected to divert a significant portion of its coffee chaff in North America to Ford to be incorporated into vehicle parts. This collaboration also includes looking at other McDonald’s waste products, such as orange and potato peels, furthering the sustainability goals of both companies.
“Like McDonald’s, Ford is committed to minimizing waste and we’re always looking for innovative solutions to further that goal,” said Ian Olson, senior director, global sustainability, McDonald’s. “Together, by finding a way to use coffee chaff as a resource, we believe McDonald’s and Ford are elevating how companies can work together to increase participation in the circular economy.”
The collaboration with Ford and McDonald’s is the latest example of both companies’ innovative approach to product and environmental stewardship.
Ford is progressing toward a goal of using only recycled and renewable plastics in vehicles globally, using an increasing range of sustainable materials.
McDonald’s is on its way to source 100 percent of its guest packaging from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025. In addition, McDonald’s is helping develop a recyclable and/or compostable cup through the NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge.
Both efforts are part of McDonald’s Scale for Good initiative, a global commitment to use its size and scale to drive meaningful change.
McDonald’s and Ford plan to continue exploring ways to collaborate and utilize waste as a resource, while furthering the sustainability goals of each company.
Source: Ford Press Release