Ford Uses Coffee for Car Parts

January 4, 2020
Ford Uses Coffee for Car Parts

McDonald’s and Ford have joined together to make car parts from coffee chaff.

Using a new method, Ford Motor Company is producing a headlight lens for the Lincoln Continental from a plastic that incorporates coffee chaff.  Ford plans to add additional parts made from the coffee chaff, including Mustang parts.

Both Ford and McDonald’s are very interested in environmental sustainability.  Specifically, Ford uses the coffee chaff from McDonald’s and combines it with plastic and other additives to create pellets that can be formed into a number of car parts.  The coffee chaff from McDonald’s is typically thrown away or burned.  By working together, the two companies take what is normally a waste product in one industry and put it to use in another.

Video Spotlight: Ford and McDonald’s: Executives In Cars Talking Coffee | Ford and the Environment | FORD

This post is based on the Fox Business article, Ford, McDonald’s Team Up to Turn Coffee Byproducts into Car Parts, by Daniella Genovese, December 4, 2019, and the YouTube video, Ford and McDonald’s: Executives In Cars Talking Coffee | Ford and the Environment | FORD, by Ford, December 4, 2019. Image source: Getty Images/Hemera

Discussion Questions:

1. What is significant about Ford and McDonald’s working together on this part?

Guidance: Producing parts that close the loop by taking wastes and turning them into usable parts is important.  What is also noteworthy is that two companies in totally unrelated industries are working together on sustainability.

2. What would Ford have needed to know about this process and material before adopting it?

Guidance: Information that would have been important includes the cost of material, cost of the manufacturing process, various characteristics of the material (such as weight, strength, durability, etc.), the environmental impact of the process of creating the material, cost of transporting the coffee chaff, and availability of the coffee chaff.  The article does mention that a 25% reduction in energy is gained by using the material in the forming process, and that it is 20% lighter, offering improved performance for the car.


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