Ford, McDonald's partner to turn coffee bean waste into headlight parts

The organic composite is said to be "significantly better" than the currently used material.

Ford has teamed with McDonald's to repurpose coffee-bean waste into car parts.

The fast-food chain each year produces millions of pounds of dried coffee bean skins, known as chaff, that naturally falls off the bean during the roasting process.

The companies found that chaff can be converted into a durable composite material by heating to a certain temperature under low oxygen, forming pellets after adding plastic and other additives. The pellets can then be molded into various shapes including headlamp housings.

Ford claims the components will be around 20 percent lighter and require 25 percent less energy during the molding process. The chaff composite is also said to have "significantly better" heat properties than the currently used material.

The coffee-chafe parts extend Ford's history of using recycled materials for car parts, starting in 2007 with soybean-based foam for headliners. Other repurposed materials have included plastic bottles, tires, US currency, rice hulls, tomato skins, tree bark, agave fiber and bamboo, among others.

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