Ford Motor Company and McDonald’s USA will soon work together by using the discarded skins of roasted coffee beans in vehicle parts such as headlamp housings.
The companies found that coffee chaff, the dried skin of the bean that naturally comes off during the roasting process, can be converted into a durable material to reinforce certain vehicle parts. The chaff is heated to high temperatures under low oxygen, mixed in with plastic and other additives, and turned into pellets which can then be formed into various shapes.
The chaff composite meets quality specifications for parts such as headlamp housings and other interior and engine bay components. The resulting items are around 20 per cent lighter and require up to 25 per cent less energy during the moulding process. Ford said the heat properties of the chaff component are significantly better than the currently used material and is the first time the company has used bean skins to convert into select vehicle parts.
“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. “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 is expected to give a significant portion of its coffee chaff in North America to Ford to be incorporated into vehicle parts.
“Like McDonald’s, Ford is committed to minimising waste and we’re always looking for innovative ways to further that goal,” said Ian Olson, Senior Director, Global Sustainability, McDonald’s. “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 project also involves Varroc Lighting Systems, which supplies the headlamps, and Competitive Green Technologies, the processor of the coffee chaff. Ford says its goal is using recycled and renewable plastics in vehicles globally and increasing the range of sustainable materials.
McDonald’s says it is on its way to sourcing all its guest packaging from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025, and 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.