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.
— Ford Motor Company (@Ford) December 4, 2019
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.”
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.”
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.