Ford and McDonald’s Collaboration Leads to Coffee Beans Repurposed as Car Parts


Millions of pounds of coffee chaff, the dried skin of the bean, naturally comes off during the roasting process every year. Instead of letting all of it go to waste, McDonalds and Ford partnered together and found a way to turn this unused coffee chaff into car parts such as headlamp housings, interior pieces, as well as parts under the hood.


Ford and McDonald’s research teams realized that coffee chaff could be molded into various shapes and used for other products by heating it to a high temperature with low oxygen levels and mixing in plastic and other additives. Not only does this chaff composite meet the quality requirements for vehicles parts such as headlamp housings, but it also uses 25% less energy during the molding process and results in a product that is 20% lighter.


“McDonald’s commitment to innovation was impressive to us and matched our own forward-thinking vision and action for sustainability,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, sustainability and emerging materials research team. “This has been a priority for Ford for over 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.”


McDonald’s and Ford both have made commitments to improving the environment and have proved that thinking outside of the box can have amazing results. In addition to McDonalds and Ford, Varroc Lighting Systems and Competitive Green Technologies both helped out with this project. Moving forward, McDonald’s is expected to supply a large portion of its coffee chaff in North America to Ford for these vehicle parts.


“Like McDonald’s, Ford is committed to minimizing waste and we’re always looking for innovative ways to further that goal,” said Ian Olson, senior director, global sustainability, McDonald’s. “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 see this innovation as the first of many and will continue to research other repurposing options to better the environment. In addition to this mission, Ford also plans to invest a total of $11 billion by 2022 on electric vehicles, including the all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E expected to be released in late 2020. Interested in purchasing an environmentally friendly vehicle next? Check out Ford’s hybrid vehicles at Sloan Ford in Exton today!

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