McDonald's And Ford Team Up To Build Car Parts From Coffee Waste

Daniel Fowler
December 5, 2019

McDonald's plans to divert almost all of its coffee chaff to Ford for use in these new plastics. And you thought your McDonald's coffee didn't even have that much coffee to begin with!

Coffee chaff is the name given to a papery skin that comes off of a coffee bean during the roasting process.

According to Ford, the newly created chaff composite meets quality specifications and also becomes 20% lighter as well as using 25% less energy to develop.

"We started with an application such as the headlamp housings because this property tested extremely well in high heat - in fact better than traditional materials".

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The pellets can be molded into many different shapes that are strong and durable, but 20 percent lighter than the equivalent parts produced without coffee chaff.

"McDonald's commitment to innovation was impressive to us and matched our own forward-thinking vision and action for sustainability", Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, sustainability and emerging materials research team, says.

Ford has detailed that it is collaborating with McDonald's to create vehicle parts - like headlamp housing - from the leftover coffee bean skins that are expelled as a result of roasting. "Additionally, headlamp housings are a large auto part, and since there is a 20% weight savings with using coffee chaff, we wanted to maximize the size of the part for added fuel economy benefit". The collaboration with Ford and McDonald's is the latest example of the innovative approaches both companies take to product and environmental stewardship.

McDonald's recently achieved its goal of sourcing all of its USA coffee sustainably, one year ahead of schedule, and is also working with competitors to develop more environmentally friendly coffee cups. McDonald's is on its way to sourcing 100 percent of its guest packaging from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025. While cars aren't usually synonymous with sustainability, it's exciting to see major corporations working together to make them a bit more circular. The company designs, manufactures, markets and services a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs, electrified vehicles and Lincoln luxury vehicles, provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company and is pursuing leadership positions in electrification, autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions. Like Ford, McDonald's also wants to incorporate renewable and recycled materials into its products.

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