When major corporations make statements that they’re going to be “more sustainable,” what does that mean and how will they get there? Well, Ford is showing how.
By partnering with McDonalds, Ford is using coffee chaff – the unused dried skin that comes off coffee beans during the roasting process – as material for car parts.
Ford’s research team was already using wheat, tomatoes, agave and denim byproduct as materials for car parts and discovered that coffee chaff is good to use for materials that are exposed to higher temperatures like headlights and battery covers.
Each year, McDonalds produces 62 million pounds of coffee chaff which typically would go to landfills. Instead, Ford’s research team is collecting the coffee chaff and mixes it with plastic and other additives to become pliable and forms into many different shapes.
Ford researchers found that making car parts with chaff result in a lighter part, takes less energy to make, and the part maintains durability and performance requirements.
So how is it made?
Coffee beans are collected and shipped to roasters where the skin comes off the coffee bean during the roasting process. The chaff is then shipped to Competitive Green Technologies in Canada where the coffee chaff and plastic is mixed. That product then goes to the manufacturer that molds and assembles the headlights. Each headlight takes 30-60 seconds to form. Then they are shipped to Ford and installed into vehicles.
Ford and McDonalds plan to continuing working together to find more uses for fast food waste like orange peels and potato skins. Ford hopes to use 100% recycled and sustainable plastic on its vehicles by 2035.