Ford already uses various sustainable materials like soy and tree cellulose in an effort to only use recycled and renewable plastics in its vehicles. It has added coffee chaff to the list after its research team discovered that it can be turned into a durable product by heating it to high temperatures under low oxygen and mixing it with additives like plastic. The material will then be turned into pellets that can be formed into various shapes. During the team’s tests, they found that the chaff-based material has “significantly better” heat properties than the current material Ford is using. They also discovered that it’ll allow the company to enjoy 25 percent energy savings during the molding process.
McDonald’s is expected to earmark a significant portion of the coffee chaff its North American operations produce for this project. While it’s not entirely clear how much chaff that is, McD’s generates 62 million pounds of chaff a year in the continent alone, which is currently just used to make coal and garden mulch.