It's not often that you can drink coffee and drive with it powering your vehicle at the same time. But a new partnership between Ford and McDonald's aims at making that a reality.

Ford said on Wednesday that it will be taking all of the chaff--the dried skin from the coffee bean after it's been roasted--from McDonald's coffee beans and recycling it for use in its vehicles.

According to Ford, chaff can actually be converted into a durable bioplastic material that can be formed into a variety of shapes and used inside a vehicle. Ford specifically said that chaff can be used for headlight housings and under-hood components, and even for some of the plastic in the cabin.

When it's all said and done, the McDonald's chaff, Ford says, will make its car parts lighter, reduce carbon emissions, and ultimately create greener vehicles.

It's a major move for Ford, which is trying to be seen as a far more environmentally friendly company. It also makes sense that the company would partner with McDonald's, which sells plenty of coffee each day across its many locations.

More than anything, however, it's a sign that Ford is willing and able to think outside the box and reuse what would otherwise be waste. 

It's a lesson in what companies should do to improve their brand and messaging. Ford could have continued using plastic components like those of other companies. Instead, it's using an inventive method for finding alternatives for its cars.

Of course, such a move has a variety of implications for Ford. For one, there are reasonable questions to be asked about the cost of the McDonald's coffee components. Moreover, it would be interesting to determine whether they deliver the same quality and design appeal as standard plastic. And if they need to be replaced, how easy would it be to actually do it--and pay for it?

There are also implications for McDonald's that should be considered. Those who are already buying coffee from the company will likely continue to do so. But will the partnership between McDonald's and Ford help the company sell even more coffee? It's not an unreasonable question to ask--especially with so many people now more actively supporting companies that aim to be more environmentally friendly.

Ultimately, it's hard to see the partnership between McDonald's and Ford as anything but a solid move for both companies. And if it works well, chances are other automakers will follow suit.

Published on: Dec 4, 2019
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