We all love our daily cuppa joe, but did you know that the coffee industry actually produces a lot of waste? Beyond the disposable paper cups and lids that usually don’t get recycled, much of the waste includes spent coffee grounds.
It’s estimated that 18 million tonnes of coffee grounds goes into landfill each year, where they emit methane – a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period, which is one of the primary causes of global warming.
To make sure that your coffee habit isn’t contributing to climate change, we’ve found three companies around the world to support that have been finding new uses for coffee by-products:
Coffee Cherry Co.
Denver-based Coffee Cherry Co. upcycles coffee cherries from farmers to create coffee flour, which is then used in baked goods, confectionery or in beverages. Not only does this reduce significant amounts of waste, it also prevents the additional greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) that would otherwise be released if the cherries were left to rot in coffee plantations.
Belliveau, founder of Coffee Cherry Co and a former Starbucks coffee engineer, explains that the product “has more antioxidants than pomegranate, more iron than spinach, and more fibre than a coconut.” Head to the company’s website for a range of delicious recipes that can be made from coffee flour, from Coffee Cherry Caramel Corn to Coffee Cherry Flour Tortillas. The company’s partners have also used coffee flour to enhance the nutrition and taste of a range of foods, from almond butters to pasta.
Learn more at Coffee Cherry Co.
British company Bio-bean has developed a way to upcycle spent coffee grounds while reducing GHG emissions. Leveraging the oil in spent coffee grounds, the company compresses them into biomass pellets and logs, which can then be used to fuel industrial boilers, domestic stoves and multi-fuel burners, replacing the use of virgin wood. Bio-bean’s pellets and logs reduce GHG emissions and are also more efficient – they are also 20% hotter and burn for longer than dried wood.
Realising the residual nutritional value in spent coffee grounds, Bio-bean has also produced a line of spent coffee ground extracts. The extracts can be used as natural flavouring in foods and beverages; they can also be used commercially, as an additive to cosmetics or dyes. When it comes to a circular economy for coffee, Bio-bean is certainly leading the way!
Learn more about Bio-bean
Hong Kong-based social enterprise Eco Greenergy has also been innovating with coffee grounds. Having launched the ‘Zero Grounds Coffee Campaign’ to encourage coffee ground upcycling, they provide a coffee grounds recycling service, upcycling workshops and a coffee grounds recycling tour in the company’s processing factory.
Since its launch, they have already recycled 105.5 tons of coffee grounds, with participating organisations including hotel groups such as Mandarin Oriental, and global coffee chains such as Starbucks and Pacific Coffee.
What’s more – Eco Greenergy also sells a variety of zero-waste products on its e-shop, including coffee scrubbing soaps that were made from spent coffee grounds.
By upcycling coffee cherries and spent coffee grounds, these companies showcase the endless possibilities that come with embracing a circular economy. Not only are they able to reduce waste, but in the process, create products that have a much lower environmental footprint, higher nutritional value and positive impact on the planet.
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