At least, that’s what McDonald’s and Ford Motors are aiming for with their new partnership. Today, Ford announced it is working with the mega-QSR to turn coffee bean chaff into headlamp parts for its luxury Lincoln cars.
Chaff is the dried skin of a coffee bean that comes off naturally during the roasting process. According to a press release from Ford, the two companies have been working together for more than a year, and during that time discovered that chaff can be converted into durable material to reinforce certain car parts. In the case of the Lincoln headlamps, it replaces talc and, thanks to its higher heat performance and it being a lighter material, makes the vehicle more fuel efficient.
From the press release:
“The chaff composite meets the quality specifications for parts like headlamp housings and other interior and under hood components. The resulting components will be about 20 percent lighter and require up to 25 percent less energy during the molding process.”
The partnership will use coffee chaff from Canadian company Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee Inc., who supplies coffee to McDonald’s in North America. McDonald’s told Nation’s Restaurant News that “a significant portion of its coffee chaff in North America” will be used for the car parts.
Upcycling food waste is common enough for things like snacks. As the McDonald’s-Ford news highlights, companies are now looking beyond edible goods to give food leftovers a second life. For example, a company called Agraloop turns crop food waste (think sugarcane bark) into natural fibers for clothing and is developing partnerships with retailers like H&M and Levi’s. In the UK, Chip[s] Board is making sustainable plastic for eyeglasses out of discarded potato peels. These are but two of the many ways in which we’ll see manufacturers putting unused food parts to good use in the coming years.
Ford says this is the first time it has used coffee bean skins for vehicle parts. The company said in the press release that it plans to continue its partnership with McDonald’s, where the two companies will explore further ways to use coffee chaff and other food waste for car parts.