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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.

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New Upcycle Tech Gives Dead Phone Batteries a Second Lease on Life

The BETTER RE power pack taps old and discarded batteries for remaining charges.

BETTER RE is a power pack able to tap old and discarded batteries for remaining charges.

The sad thing about “smart” phones is that they very quickly lose their luster, usually just a few short years after purchase. Apps become incompatible, download times take longer and longer, and, the most popular complaint, batteries often don’t stay charged. But what if, instead of chucking your phone or its battery, you could use it down to very last drop? BETTER RE, a new kickstarter project, promises to extract the last amperes of energy as a “short term backup power pack solution.” At 67.65mm (2.66 inch) by 128.5mm (5.05 inch), this tiny device is slim, portable, and based on a simple, single platform—compatible with a variety of different smartphone batteries, both big (2,800 mAh) and small (1,810 mAh).

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Mesmerize Yourself With This Time-lapse Video of the Chicago River Going Green for St. Patrick’s Day

Dying the Chicago River for St. Patrick’s Day started as an accidental discovery, but today is a beloved city tradition

image via youtube screen capture

There’s something hypnotically soothing about seeing the Chicago River slowly turn a vivid shade of Kelly green to celebrate St. Patrick’s day; it’s like watching a gigantic lava lamp undulate through the heart of downtown Chicago.

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When my friend Dave Schenker—Boise State mechanical engineering student and registered racecar-freak—told me he was going to build the world's fastest vegetable oil-powered vehicle, I jumped on the chance to tell the story. Over two years, I filmed the Greenspeed team, made up of BSU engineering students who set out to build and race a vegetable powered vehicle at Bonneville Speed Week. With one record broken at over 155 mph at El Mirage in 2011, Greenspeed proved that vegetable oil is a viable source of energy. Capable of burning three fuel types (bio-fuel, vegetable oil, diesel), the team’s vehicle took a chance on breaking all three records in those classes.

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