In a bid to lessen the impact its cars have on the environment, Ford is teaming up with McDonald’s to put discarded roast coffee bean shells to good use. The motoring giant has enlisted the help of McDonald’s, and more importantly their coffee chaff, to manufacture car parts like interior and exterior components along with headlamp housings.
This is how the process works: Once Ford has collected a sufficient amount of coffee chaff, it gets mixed with recycled plastics and heated up before being formed into tiny pellets. Those pellets are then moulded into the required car parts. Aside from making their vehicles that much ‘greener’ by using less plastic parts, the components made from coffee chaff will be 20% lighter than normal car parts.
According to Debbie Mielewski, Ford’s Senior Technical Leader of Sustainable Materials, “The material is even better than what we currently use … No compromise. It’s better.”
North American McDonald’s chains are expected to set aside significant portions of its coffee chaff specifically for this project. Currently, McDonald’s generates around 2,8 million kilograms of chaff a year, which they use to make coal and garden mulch.
Ford isn’t the first automotive company to look towards waste products and natural materials in their cars. For example, Michelin throws wood chips and orange peels into the mix of their tires, and Ohio State University is researching how tomato skin and eggshells could be used to make certain car parts.