• McDonald’s is partnering with Ford to convert coffee chaff — coffee bean skin that comes off during the roasting process — into headlight parts.
  • The final product will be lighter, more fuel-efficient and use less petroleum and plastic.
  • The initiative comes as Ford and other car companies aim to be more sustainable and fuel-efficient.

If America runs on Dunkin', then our cars will run on McDonald’s. 

Or, at least our car lights will be made of the fast food chain’s coffee. Starting this year, Ford plans to incorporate coffee chaff — coffee bean skin that comes off during the roasting process — into headlamp housing for some cars. Ford is connecting with McDonald’s suppliers, since the restaurant chain doesn’t roast its own coffee. The car company made the announcement last December.

This is the latest example of companies embracing sustainability initiatives as consumers become more concerned about plastic pollution and carbon emissions. The recycling plan — which will cut down on plastic and energy use — comes at a time of pressure for the auto industry to reduce emissions and develop electric cars. 

The process works by heating the coffee chaff to high temperatures under low oxygen then mixing it with plastic and other additives. The material can then be formed into various shapes and is more durable than traditional car parts, Ford said. 

“If you came to our lab, it looks somewhere between a landfill and a farm,” Debbie Miewelski, senior technical leader of materials sustainability for Ford, told CNN

The final product will be 20 percent lighter, more fuel-efficient and save the company 25 percent more energy during their manufacturing, Ford said. And, in the process, the initiative will reduce food waste, use less petroleum and plastic and lower carbon dioxide emissions. 

Ford traditionally uses plastic and talc to make its headlamp housing. But the coffee cars don’t use talc, which is not a renewable mineral, CNN reports. Coffee chaff, however, is widely available and often goes to waste, Miewelski told CNN. 

“This has been a priority for Ford for over 20 years,” Miewelski said in a statement. “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.”

Published on Feb 11, 2020