Ford collaborates with McDonald’s to turn coffee waste into car parts

Ford has announced a collaboration with fast-food chain McDonald’s to convert dried coffee bean skins into material for car parts.

Coffee chaff – the dried skin of the bean – comes off during the roasting process. It’s this by-product that is the most valuable for material production, as by heating it to a high temperature under low oxygen and mixing it with plastics and other additives to form pellets, it can then be formed into a variety of shapes.

Despite rather humble origins, the material complies with quality specifications for components such as headlamp housings and other interior and under-bonnet parts, which are 20 per cent lighter and require 25 per cent less energy during the moulding process.

Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader of sustainability and emerging materials research team, said: “McDonald’s commitment to innovation was impressive to us and matched our own forward-thinking vision and action for sustainability.

“This has been a priority for Ford for over 20 years, and this is an example of jump starting the closed-loop economy, where different industries work together and exchange materials that otherwise would be side or waste products.”

Coffee chaff is reworked into a mouldable product
(Ford/McDonald’s)

Ian Olson, senior director of global sustainability at McDonald’s, said: “Like McDonald’s, Ford is committed to minimising waste and we’re always looking for innovative ways to further that goal.

“By finding a way to use coffee chaff as a resource, we are elevating how companies together can increase participation in the closed-loop economy.”

The material can be moulded into a variety of shapes
(Ford/McDonald’s)

Ford is pushing to include more recycled and sustainably sourced materials in its vehicles, while McDonald’s has a goal of sourcing 100 per cent of its guest packaging from renewable, recycled or certified sourced by 2025.

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