Ford is Taking McDonald’s Coffee Waste and Turning It Into Car Parts
Ford has an obsession with food waste. They started with creating a soy-based foam for car seats and then teamed up with Heinz to turn tomato waste into bioplastic for wiring brackets and storage bins. They used mats fashioned from coconut fibre and electrical covers created from rice hull. And now, they have managed to find a way to use the byproduct of one of the world’s most popular beverage: coffee.
For this, they have teamed up with McDonald’s, which serves about 2.25 million cups of coffee a day in the USA alone. That’s a lot of coffee requiring a lot of coffee beans, which leads to a lot of waste. The Ford research team discovered that the chaff—that is, the skin of the coffee bean—could be converted into a superior material for car parts.
By heating the chaff in a low-oxygen environment and then blending it with plastic, the team found that the resulting composite was strong and heat-resistant. What’s more, the material is 20% lighter than what Ford is presently using; although they will start using the composite material just for the headlamp housing, which will shave just one pound off the car. But hey, a pound here, a pound there, and eventually enough pounds are shed to improve fuel economy.
Each headlight housing will require the chaff from about 300,000 beans—that’s a lot of waste being recycled. The company claims that the moulding of automotive parts using the chaff composite lead to 25% energy savings. More green points!
Ford also says that the new composite material will be used in their cars starting next year, specifically in the Ford Mustang and Lincoln Continental.
Both companies are looking for other scraps they can work together to recycle. Potato skin upholstery, maybe? The McD menu and Ford’s ingenuity is the limit…