McDonalds sells a lot of coffee. Over a billion cups a year, to be exact. All that coffee leads to a lot of productive mornings, but it also leads to a lot of waste. Each year, millions of pounds of coffee chaff (the skin of the coffee beans that comes off during roasting) ends up getting turned into mulch. Some coffee chaff just gets burned, leading to an increase in CO2.

Now, that chaff is going to get turned into car parts. Ford is incorporating coffee chaff from McDonalds coffee into the headlamps of some cars. Ford has been using plastic and talc to make its headlamps, but this new process will reduce the reliance on talc, a non-renewable mineral. The chaff is heated to high temperatures under low oxygen and mixed with plastic and other additives. The bioplastic can then be formed into shapes.

Keep Reading

A 'Circular Economy': Why the Next Packaging Will Be Grown, Not Manufactured

We need to design a circular economy where materials are truly, completely recycled.

Infinite economic growth is at odds with our finite planet, and this obsession with endless growth is driving us towards ecological catastrophe. I’ve just returned from the annual World Economic Forum meeting, and this reality has never been so clear to me. The forum brings together economists, but also activists, business leaders, humanitarians and technologists.

Keep Reading