Ford and McDonald's team up to make vehicle parts out of coffee

Andrew Cummings
December 6, 2019

Auto manufacturer Ford has one unique idea which will see them recycle old coffee waste from McDonald's (which I can only imagine works out to a lot) into vehicle parts if all goes according to plan.

It turns out, in an auto innovation lab akin to "a landfill crossed with a farm", Debbie Miewelski, Ph.D., Ford's senior technical leader of materials sustainability, and her team discovered that coffee chaff (the outer layer of bean that comes off during the roasting process) makes for a lightweight, heat-resistant plastic filler. 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.

With Ford being one of the largest vehicle manufacturers in the world though they could help get rid of a lot of unnecessary coffee waste and hopefully more innovative ideas can come from similar manufacturers to find ways of recycling food waste.


The resulting elements are about 20 percent lighter than traditional parts.

McDonald's and Ford plan to continue their collaboration to uncover other ways to use waste as a resource. As of this year, Ford is incorporating the coffee shell, the coffee bean shell that is released during the roasting process, into the plastic housing of the headlights used in some cars.

We were curious what else Ford had in mind for this new coffee chaff plastic, so we asked.


She only recently made a decision to go full steam ahead on incorporating coffee chaff into Ford's manufacturing processes.

Varroc Lighting Systems (headlamp supplier) and Competitive Green Technologies (coffee chaff processor) are also involved in the project. The coffee version is more sustainable because it is lighter and does not use talcum which, as a mineral, is not renewable.

In recent years, Ford has tried to use more recycled material in its cars, including seat cushions made from soy products, gaskets made from old tire rubber, interior console components made from bamboo, and wiring brackets made from tomato skins. In addition, McDonald's is helping develop a recyclable and/or compostable cup through the NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge.


Ford hasn't stated which fashions will use the chaff-based plastics. Recently, McDonald & # 39; s achieved its goal of obtaining all its U.S. coffee. UU.

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