Eco Warriors

Ford partnering with McDonalds to recycle coffee beans, create car parts with them

Soon, you'll be able to drive away from McDonald's with your coffee in a Ford car made from the fast food giant's leftovers.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

I'm lovin' it! Ford Motor Company and McDonald's are teaming up to recycle the millions of pounds of coffee chaff leftover from the fast food giant's food service. The automaker and its suppliers will use the chaff in the creation of various auto parts, including headlamp housings and hood components.

The chaff is the skin of the coffee bean that naturally comes off during the roasting process. The companies found that they could convert the chaff info a durable material that can be used to safely reinforce vehicle parts.

Ford Motor Company McDonald's Ford Motor Company and McDonald's will soon be giving vehicles a caffeine boost by using part of a familiar staple in the morning routine, coffee beans, in vehicle parts such as headlamp housing.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

This isn't the first time that Ford has used recycled materials in their vehicles. A few years ago the company was touting its use of tomato skins and soy in the Ford Mustang.

How does it work? The chaff is heated to high temperatures under low oxygen conditions. Then plastic and other additives are added in turning the product into pellets. Those pellets are then formed into various shapes.

The new components created using the chaff-based compound are 20 percent lighter and require 25 percent less energy during the molding process.

"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 is expected to direct a significant portion of its coffee chaff in North America to Ford to be incorporated into vehicle parts. Other involved companies include Varroc Lighting Systems, which supplies the headlamps, and Competitive Green Technologies, the processor of the coffee chaff.

"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."

They're not stopping there. McDonald's and Ford are continuing to find new ways to collaboratively use waste as a resource, while furthering their respective sustainability goals.

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Ford has launched its new Bronco configuration tool.

Photo by AutomotiveMap with screen image courtesy of Ford Motor Company
How would you build it? Now you can find out. The new 2021 Ford Bronco build-and-price configurator is live on the Ford website giving buyers the opportunity to customize their pick without having to commit to a deposit or trip to the dealership. Ford has received over 190,000 reservations for the Bronco to date.
It's also a great way to kill some time between Zooms.

"The color and material offerings of the all-new Bronco and Bronco Sport are genuine and trusted, and establish a visceral connection between nature and the authenticity of this new family of rugged SUVs," said Missy Coolsaet, Bronco color and materials designer. "They motivate our customers to return to the wilderness and challenge themselves – and Bronco takes them there in a carefree, spontaneous way."

2021 Ford Bronco configurator options

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The configurator works in a traditional sense, asking users to first enter their ZIP code then taking them to a menu where they choose a trim level. Ford offers the Bronco in seven trim levels: Base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Badlands, Wildtrak, and First Edition.

Buyers are then asked to choose a two- or four-door model. The 2021 Bronco is available in a wide variety of colors, including some with deep Ford heritage, and wheel varieties.

Powertrains components are trim level-dependent and some paint and wheel color combinations are not compatible with the seven-speed manual transmission or the Sasquatch Package.

All-terrain, mud, or all-season tires are either standard or available depending on trim level and wheel choice.

Buyers can check options boxes for a hard top, sound-deadening headliner, roof rails with crossbar, splash guards, an upgraded bash plate, paint protection film, brush guard, keyless entry keypad, wireless charging pad, heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, a 12.0-inch infotainment touch screen, 10-speaker B&O sound system, and LED headlights, depending on trim level. Higher Bronco grades get much of these features as standard.

Cloth, vinyl, or leather-trimmed seats are available. An Ebony black or Medium Sandstone interior are the only options, but Medium Sandstone is not available in all trim levels.

A variety of equipment groups and packages are available as well, including a graphics package that will put the profile of rolling hills on the lower quarter of your Bronco's door panels.

Check out the configurator now at Ford.com/Bronco.

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