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Ford, McDonald's To Convert Waste From Coffee Beans Into Car Parts

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Automaker Ford and fast-food giant McDonald's said they will collaborate to convert waste from coffee beans into vehicle parts, such as headlamp housings.

Ford will make headlamp housings using discarded coffee chaff, the dried skin of the bean that naturally comes off during the roasting process. This is the first time Ford will use coffee bean skins to convert into select vehicle parts.

Ford and McDonald's said the coffee chaff can be turned in to pellets after heating it to high temperatures under low oxygen and mixing it with plastic as well as other additives. The processed chaff can then be formed into various shapes and can be converted into a durable material to reinforce certain vehicle parts.

According to Ford, the chaff composite can be used for parts like headlamp housings as well as 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.

Heat properties of the chaff component are significantly better than the currently used material, Ford noted. The automaker said it expects McDonald's to direct a significant portion of its coffee chaff in North America to be added into vehicle parts.

The collaboration project also involves Varroc Lighting Systems, which supplies the headlamps, and Competitive Green Technologies, the processor of the coffee chaff.

Ford said it is progressing toward a goal of using recycled and renewable plastics in vehicles globally, with an increasing range of sustainable materials.

The company is continuing to explore ways to replace petroleum-based plastics with bio-based materials and agricultural by-products. In 2007, Ford was the first automaker to use soybean-based foam for seats and headliners.

The automaker started to use recycled plastic bottles for carpets, wheel liners and fabrics from 2008. The company uses wheat straw for storage bins and cup holders, rice hulls for electrical harnesses, and tomato skins for wiring brackets and storage bins.

On its part, McDonald's plans a 31 percent reduction in emissions intensity, per metric ton of food and packaging, across its supply chain by 2030 from 2015 levels.

Through its 'Scale for Good' platform, McDonald's is working toward attaining its 2025 goals to make its entire guest packaging come from renewable, recycled or certified sources, and to recycle guest packaging in all its restaurants.

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