What happens to your used coffee grounds? Whether you or your team are emptying a bean-to-cup machine or cleaning portafilters and knock-off containers from the hard-working espresso machine in your café, it’s pretty likely all the waste coffee goes straight in the bin. Let’s face it, there’s enough cleaning and maintenance work to go around without worrying about separating your spent coffee grounds, right?
Bear with us. You know we’re pretty big on environmental and sustainability messages already and we hope you’re on board with that. We also know that time can be short, even with the self-cleaning cycles on modern coffee machines, and that plenty of people get weary with worrying about their recycling. But with recent news that used coffee grounds might make a viable alternative to palm oil.
Sounds unlikely, doesn’t it? But no.
First, a few quick facts to jog your memory.
- Around the UK, 500,000+ tonnes of coffee grounds are generated.
- 90% of those are sent to landfill or incinerated
- Palm oil is found in about 50% of the packaged products we buy from supermarkets
- Much of that palm oil is unsustainably sourced and involves the destruction of natural habitats for endangered wildlife, including orangutans
- Palm oil production makes up around 10% of global CO2 emissions each year.
Two entrepreneurs from Scotland, who supported their studies at Strathclyde University by working in coffee shops, came up with the idea. They saw the sheer volume of waste first-hand. And then they decided to work out whether the oil – we all know coffee is pretty oily – could be extracted. Their company, Revive Eco, has secured more than £200,000 of funding from Zero Waste Scotland and are competing for more funding in an international competition.
Their big idea is, of course, still in development. They hope to launch in Glasgow next year and, in the long term, open up the process in major cities around the world. Here’s hoping.
But don’t head back to the bin just yet.
Because in the meantime, there’s bio-bean. The company works with all the major waste management companies – the guys who collect your sacks of rubbish and old coffee grounds – to round up those grounds. They process the waste coffee to create heating briquettes and biomass pellets for home and industrial-scale heating.
A huge improvement on your coffee grounds sitting in landfill, emitting the greenhouse gas methane, don’t you think?
Take a look at bio-bean’s service and join the growing number of coffee businesses going greener.