Coffee consumption in the UK

The British Coffee Association estimates that UK consumers drink approximately 95 million cups of coffee a day.

Industry standards vary, but assuming that a cup of coffee contains two shots of coffee (a double espresso), then about 15g of ground coffee beans goes into each cup.

Coffee is made by adding hot water to ground coffee, and waste coffee grounds that arrive at our factory are about 50% moisture. So we can assume that each coffee produces about 30g of wet waste coffee grounds.

Putting these numbers together we can make the conservative estimate that a total of over half a million tonnes of waste coffee grounds are produced in this country every year.

Coffee waste disposal

All waste disposal produces some emissions. We wanted to find out if ours is the most sustainable method of disposal for coffee grounds. We commissioned sustainability consultancy Carbon Smart to produce a waste coffee life cycle analysis (LCA) to compare our carbon footprint to that of two other common waste disposal methods for coffee grounds: general waste going to landfill, and food waste going to anaerobic digestion (AD).

Carbon Smart looked at emissions produced by disposing of a tonne of waste coffee grounds, from the point of collectoin through processing and transport to end use. For landfill, that end use is landfill gas released at landfill sites; for AD, it’s combustion of biogas and use of digestate; and for bio-bean, that’s burning Coffee Logs in a woodburner. The calculated emissions for landfill and AD were sourced from data provided by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, the Environment Agency, Waste Resources Action Programme, industry and academic research papers.

The first LCA results showed that bio-bean produces significantly less emissions than both landfill and AD (60% and 30% respectively). However, we have since updated the results as a new series of factory upgrades and efficiency improvements take effect. The emissions saving is now 84% compared to landfill, and 72% compared to AD (see graph below).

The above graph shows that every tonne of waste coffee grounds recycled produces 112kgCO2e. On the basis that in 2017 we processed over 5000T waste coffee grounds and this figure is only set to rise as our geographical reach expands, we can safely calculate that our annual carbon footprint is 560,000kgCO2e, or 1.5T per day. In a landfill site, each tonne of WCG produces 682kgCO2e, which annually amounts to 3.4 million kgCO2e or 9.3T per day. Therefore, taking landfill as the default or baseline method of waste disposal, the daily carbon saving is over seven tonnes of harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information on how this LCA was carried out, please contact Carbon Smart.

Coffee Logs

Coffee Logs are made from used coffee grounds that have been cleaned and dried at our processing plant. bio-bean has carried out extensive testing to ensure the highest possible burn performance, and has compared these results to similar fuel products.

The heat output of Coffee Logs is 20% greater than that of kiln dried wood, and over 100% greater than that of wet wood. Examining the burn rate also proved that Coffee Logs perform better, burning 18% slower than kiln dried wood and 32% slower than wet wood. (Remember, burning slower means a longer-lasting fuel).

Coal’s heat output is about 29.3 MJ/kg while bio-bean testing shows that Coffee Logs produce 20 MJ/kg. So burning 1.5 tonnes of Coffee Logs can save a tonne of coal from being burned.

To begin recycling your waste coffee grounds with bio-bean, email