Turning Coffee Beans into Headlights: McDonald's Project

By: First Union


Turning Coffee Beans into Headlights: McDonald's Project

Auto giant Ford has called upon McDonald's for help, and it probably isn't in the way you would think…The carmaker wants the fast-food chain to work with their suppliers to gather coffee chaff (the skin of the coffee bean that comes off during roasting./) Why coffee chaff? Ford has devised a way to use this byproduct of the coffee roasting process as one of the components of plastic headlamp housing. In their efforts to move toward more ecologically friendly and sustainable practices, it stands to reason that Ford has come up with a pretty clever way of using coffee.

The official incorporation of chaff into headlight housing started earlier this year. Obviously, throughout the past few years, people have become increasingly concerned about the environment, about the pervasiveness of carbon footprints as well as the harm that plastic pollution is causing to the planet. This is a big part of the reason why Ford is moving in this new direction and also why they're continuing to find innovative ways to integrate even more sustainable materials into their production cycles.

The headlamp housing to date has been made utilizing plastic and talc. Talc however in a nonrenewable mineral. The coffee bean byproduct takes the place of the talc and thus creates a far more sustainable production model as it is so widely available and would otherwise likely just go to waste. Additionally, their researchers are actively looking for other ways in which to use the chaff—on other components of their cars for example.

The auto manufacturer reached out to McDonald's mainly because of how large the chain is. Not to mention, McDonald's adheres to many of the same sustainability goals as Ford—their common interests in some ways brought these two giants together. While McDonald's does not roast its coffee beans, the idea is to have the restaurant chain reach out to its various suppliers and procure partnerships that would then supply Ford with the coffee chaff.

McDonald's for its part in promoting increased environmentally friendly practices recently achieved the goal of sustainably sourcing all of its US coffee. They are also working in conjunction with other, similar venues and restaurants to devise a more eco-friendly coffee cup. And now working with Ford in this capacity, they have yet another method of making their coffee sales even greener. By partnering with Ford, McDonald's also stands to gain a bigger picture appreciation of what sorts of changes and consequent impacts are possible, especially when thinking outside of the box.

First Union Lending has worked with several companies doing their part to provide sustainable, eco-friendly solutions to customers. We are behind any effort to cut down on carbon emissions and work toward renewable goals. If your small business needs money to this end, or for whatever sort of project you have in mind, we are here to help. Our loan programs are designed with small businesses in mind. Call today!

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