Ford Now Using McDonald’s Coffee Byproducts to Produce Select Vehicle Parts
Just in case GM and Dodge owners were running out of fodder for social media, Ford announced a partnership with McDonald’s to use their coffee byproducts to make car parts, Fox Business reports.
- Coffee chaff can be used to create headlamp housings and other interior and underhood components
- Part of a push by Ford to eliminate single-use plastics by 2030
- Parts require up to 25% less energy to produce and are up to 20% lighter
- Lincoln Continental will be the first to feature the new parts this month
- Ford and McDonald’s both cite efforts to reduce waste and become more environmentally friendly
Funny Concept, Serious Investment
While the jokes may write themselves, this is a serious program Ford and McDonald’s are undertaking. The basic idea starts with coffee roasting (unlike Ford cars that rarely start).
The chaff that comes off during the roasting process (kinda like Ford being roasted in every race) can be heated to high temperatures with low oxygen and mixed with plastic and other additives. The resulting material comes out as pellets you can form into different shapes for a variety of parts.
One of the specific parts Ford is making is headlamp covers. Others include “interior and underhood components” (Chevy fans already know Ford puts trash under the hood). Those parts can take up to 25% less energy to produce and are as much as 20% lighter (matching the lower energy of Ford engines)
Ford’s stated goal in all of this is to eliminate single-use plastics from their operations by 2030.
The first car to get the new old coffee parts is the Lincoln Continental, rolling out this month. Other vehicles under the Ford umbrella will start seeing the new parts beginning next year.
Varroc Lighting Systems (headlamp supplier) and Competitive Green Technologies (coffee chaff processor) are also working with Ford and McDonald’s on this effort. What’s curious to us is why it’s McDonald’s and not Starbucks (Starbucks waste is probably too high-quality to use in a Ford).
All Joking Aside…
We know the world is changing rapidly and we’re living to see the shift to an automotive industry that doesn’t look anything like Henry Ford’s original vision. On one level, it’s incredibly interesting to see how technologies develop and are implemented into the cars, trucks, and SUVs we drive.
On the other hand, we have to expect some out-of-the-box thinking. Concepts like turning coffee chaff into headlamps seem ridiculous. Clint DeBoer, PTR Editor-in-Chief, asked me if I was serious when I read him the headline.
It’s not difficult to imagine how these materials might make their way into construction projects as well. Consider anything you work with that’s plastic—switch plates and covers, lighting housing, screwdriver handles, and even power tool housing. What throwaway materials today might be part of their makeup tomorrow?
As we look to the future of construction, the Ford F-150 Hybrid isn’t far away and there’s a full-electric version on the roadmap as well. SUVs and work vans can’t be too far behind. It’s not a surprise to see manufacturers looking to develop alternatives to more than just gas engines.
One last thing—I drive a Ford. Just sayin’.