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Ford Teams with McDonald’s to Recycle Coffee for Parts

Ford plans on using dried coffee bean skin to make the typically plastic headlight covering.

Ford announced it will be teaming up with McDonald’s to use coffee bean waste as  parts for their vehicles. 

The idea came about earlier this year, when Ford developed the traditionally-plastic casing over some headlamps using coffee caff, which is the skin on coffee beans. Debbie Miewelski, the senior technical leader of materials sustainability at Ford, said that coffee chaff is lighter and more sustainable, as opposed to the talc and plastics that they would use. 

“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,” Ford said. 

Ford decided to partner with McDonald’s because of the food chain’s size, and because of their shared goals of using more sustainable practices. Both companies have said they aim to reduce their waste — McDonald’s focused on coffee this year, working to sustainably source their coffee and work to develop cups that are recyclable. 

For more than a decade, Ford has been using organic materials in their labs like tomato, coconut, wheat, and other plants in their vehicles, all for varying purposes, like seat cushions. 

Almost 30% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, which has put pressure on the auto industry to review their practices and increase environmentally-friendly products. 

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