Ford and McDonald's team up to turn coffee chaff into car parts

While hitting the McDonald's drive through for a hot cup of coffee on the way to work is part of the morning routine for millions of Americans, someday soon there will be a day when the Ford cars, trucks and SUVs idling in line may be partially made of coffee too. Ford Motor Company and McDonald's USA recently announced the fruits of a one-of-a-kind partnership that turns coffee chaff -- the dried skin of the coffee bean that is normally thrown away -- into renewable, recyclable plastics sturdy enough to be used in vehicle production.

McDonald's sells tens of millions of cups of coffee every year, which means roasting up hundreds of tons of fresh beans. In the past, coffee chaff, which sloughs off as the bean is roasted, had no real use and was discarded, meaning truckloads of the byproduct went to landfills. Ford and McDonald's want to do something productive with all that chaff, so materials engineers with the two companies worked together to create a coffee-based plastic that combines coffee bean chaff with other additives to create pellets that can be melted and remolded into various shapes.   


Ford soon certified that the new organic-based plastics meet the company's strict standards for production parts, with components made from the plastic being just as strong as standard plastics, while also about 20 percent lighter and using 25 percent less energy to create.

Ford reports that the heat dissipating properties of the chaff-based plastics are significantly better than that of plastics being used today. Ford lighting assembly supplier Varroc Lighting Systems plans to make headlamp assemblies for production Ford vehicles in the near future (and sorry, coffee lovers: the plastic apparently doesn't emit the smell of fresh java when you turn on your headlights).

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


McDonald's says one result of the partnership is that they'll soon be able to divert most of their coffee chaff waste to Ford parts production, keeping it out of landfills. Combined with the company's commitment to sourcing 100 percent of their packaging from certified renewable or recycled sources by 2025, the partnership with Ford is paving the way to a brighter, greener future.   



From the incredible 2021 Mustang Mach E all-electric crossover to future Ford parts made from what was once thrown away, Ford is working hard to build a better tomorrow for us all. It's one more reason why Heartland Ford of Heber Springs is proud to sell quality Ford cars, trucks and SUVs. Want the vehicle of the future that you can drive today? Stop in and see us for a test drive at Heartland Ford, or check out our big selection online at our website: 

Categories: Parts
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