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Ford and McDonald’s link up to use waste and give car parts a coffee boost.

Ford will use McDonald’s coffee waste to make car parts. ©Ford.

“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.”

Car giant Ford will be teaming up with fast food giant McDonald’s to recycle coffee waste from the restaurant into vehicle parts.

Ford will be taking food waste from McDonald’s and diverting it from landfill to its laboratory, where it will be engineered into bioplastics, the automaker said in a statement.

The recycled materials will be used to make parts like headlamp housings and other interior and under hood components.

“McDonald’s commitment to innovation was impressive to us and matched our own forward-thinking vision and action for sustainability,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford (@Ford) senior technical leader, sustainability and emerging materials research team.

She added: “This has been a priority for Ford for more than 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.”

Every year, millions of tonnes of coffee chaff – the dried skin of the bean – naturally comes off during the roasting process. Together, Ford and McDonald’s can provide a new home to a significant portion of that material, Ford said.

The companies found that chaff can be converted into a durable material to reinforce certain vehicle parts. By heating the chaff to high temperatures under low oxygen, mixing it with plastic and other additives and turning it into pellets, the material can be formed into various shapes.

According to Ford, using the chaff composite for these vehicle parts will help to make then around 20% lighter and require up to 25% less energy during the moulding process.

“Like McDonald’s, Ford is committed to minimising waste and we’re always looking for innovative ways to further that goal,” said Ian Olson, senior director, global sustainability, McDonald’s (@McDonalds). “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 and McDonald’s are not the only companies using coffee waste in niche materials. In the past few years, coffee waste has been used to make biofuels, textiles and even glasses.

McDonald’s and Ford plan to continue exploring ways to collaboratively use waste as a resource, while furthering their sustainability goals.

The collaboration with Ford and McDonald’s is the latest example of the innovative approaches both companies take to product and environmental stewardship. And, the theme of collaboration could be one to watch this year.

Commenting in the Bio Market Insights’ WBM Outlook, Peter Vanacker, CEO of renewable diesel producer Neste, said: “Collaboration with sustainability-oriented companies provide us with the biggest opportunities to develop solutions to tackle these issues with speed and at large scale.

“Different solutions providers and solutions should cooperate, not compete with each other. The climate crisis and global waste challenges are enormous challenges. We should see each other as collaborators, working towards combating common targets with multiple solutions.”


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