UK vehicle manufacturer Ford is to use McDonald’s coffee bean skins, known as chaff, in car parts for the first time.
The companies found chaff can be made into a durable material by heating it and mixing with plastic and other additives to turn it into pellets that can be moulded into different shapes.
The resulting material can be used for parts including headlamp housings, certain car interior and under-bonnet components. The coffee chaff material is more sustainable as it needs up to 25% less energy during the moulding process and resulting components are 20% lighter.
McDonald’s is expected to send a substantial amount of its coffee chaff to North America to be used for Ford car parts.
This latest initiative brings Ford towards its goal of using recycled and renewable plastics in its cars around the world.
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Ford sustainability and emerging materials research team senior technical leader Debbie Mielewski 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.”
McDonald’s global sustainability senior director Ian Olson 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.”
The companies plan to continue to work together to find ways of using waste as a resource to attain their sustainability goals.