10 years of sustainable innovation and impact
bio-bean is 10 years old! It’s hard for us to believe it, and we’ve come such a long way since the founder had his ‘eureka’ moment over a cold americano back in 2013.
We’re now a team of 31 experts in coffee recycling, we have 4 different product lines all made from recycled spent coffee grounds, we work with major retailers across the UK as well as businesses across a variety of industries around the world, and we’re a Certified B Corporation.
It’s been one incredible journey, complete with highs, lows, side steps, and forward strides. Here’s a brief look back at what we’ve been up to since the beginning…
bio-bean was founded by Arthur Kay, then an architecture student at University College London.
We won the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge. This was our first significant funding and it enabled us to get our research and development work underway.
We signed the lease at our site in Cambridgeshire (now our headquarters), built the first iteration of our recycling facility, and started to grow our team.
We took our first deliveries of spent coffee grounds (from First Mile in London) and dove into trial and error of processing the grounds. We were drying the grounds using a trailer dryer and mixing them with a cement mixer!
This was also the year we trialled pellet manufacturing on a small scale.
Coffee Logs was born! We launched Coffee Logs into the solid fuels market, boosted by funding we won from the Virgin Media Business VOOM award (for the grow category).
We also launched coffee collection services with our first national-scale coffee recycling partner, Costa Coffee – a partnership that continues to this day.
Coffee Logs found their place on Morrisons shelves – our first major retail partner – and sales took off.
We undertook our first carbon footprint assessment, using Avieco (formerly Carbon Smart), which demonstrated the positive carbon impact we have through processing spent coffee grounds.
This was also the year we installed our biomass boiler and large-scale dryer at our facility, which allowed us to move to drying spent coffee with a more sustainable fuel.
And in 2018 we opened a dedicated R&D lab in Welwyn Garden City, where our development team began focusing on extracting flavours from the spent coffee grounds.
We launched our first natural flavour ingredient into the food & beverage industry following a joint development agreement with one of the top three ‘flavour and fragrance houses’ globally.
We gained our ISO14001 accreditation.
And we joined the European WaysTUP! Horizon 20:20 partnership exploring sustainable coffee oil extraction.
Covid hit, and with businesses shut down across the country, we had no spent coffee coming in. So a major win for us was making it through the pandemic that year, and with increasing sales of Coffee Logs throughout that winter season.
We also took the opportunity to extend our dryer and increase its drying capacity – meaning we can recycle even more spent coffee grounds.
We became a Certified B Corporation in 2020, joining the global movement of using business as a force for good.
And we won the Insider Media Made in Central & East England Awards for our natural coffee flavour ingredient in the Food & Drink Award category.
We launched Inficaf and established sales of our sustainable raw material in various markets.
We gained our ISO9001 accreditation and were named a Best for the World B Corp for our environmental impact.
We moved our lab and London office up to our headquarters in Cambridgeshire so we could all collaborate under one ‘roof’.
Out in our factory we upgraded much of our equipment and added an automated bag packer, much to the team’s relief.
We updated our carbon footprint assessment following all the changes in our factory, this time with Eunomia Research & Consulting. The report shows that for every tonne of spent grounds we recycle into our various bio-products, we save 187kg of CO2e.
We were again named a Best for the World B Corp for our positive environmental impact, and we published our first ever impact report.
We also won a position for Inficaf on the #21toWatch Top21.2022 list for Things 2022, and we won the Made in Britain Impact Awards for Innovation of the Year (again, for Inficaf).
bio-bean is now 10 years old!
Since starting spent coffee recycling, we’ve recycled nearly 40,000 tonnes of spent coffee grounds, saving just under 9,000 tonnes of CO2e. This amount would take roughly 408,500 trees to process over the span of a year. That’s a 743-acre forest!
We’re extremely proud of everything we’ve achieved over the past 10 years, and particularly proud of our team. Without them, we simply wouldn’t be where we are today.
We have ambitious growth plans over the next 10 years. But first, we’ll take a brief pause to celebrate our 10th birthday.
bio-bean: 2022 in review
Each year we look back and review our triumphs and our challenges over the last 12 months. This year, there were some obvious ones that stood out…
- In January of this year we made the decision to remove the thin outer wax coating on Coffee Logs, making them even more sustainable. We’d used the coating as a protection layer to help maintain the logs’ integrity during transport to stores and homes, but knew we needed a more sustainable alternative. We’d searched for something suitable for years, and with no success decided to remove the wax layer all together. And by doing so we reduced our carbon footprint by 6%!
- Also early in the year we published the results of our new carbon lifecycle analysis, performed by independent, third-party firm Eunomia Research & Consulting. Their analysis shows that our overall carbon footprint is a net negative of -187kg CO2e per tonne of spent grounds. It also shows that when it comes to spent coffee grounds, our recycling solution really is the best disposal option. We save 228% more in greenhouse gas emissions compared to anaerobic digestion!
- Inficaf won recognition as a Top #21toWatch ‘Thing’ in 2022 in the cofinitive #21toWatch awards. And we recently won the Made in Britain Innovation of the Year award for the material. The judges remarked that we “stood out for actively choosing to engage across the industry to see how [we] could extend the use of [our] product and help other businesses address the negative impacts of their own products.”
- We partnered with global masterbatch compounder, Colloids, who have used Inficaf to create a coffee-based copolymer called BeaNused. By using Inficaf, they’re able to reduce the amount of conventional fillers and petroleum-based compounds typically used to create plastics. The coffee polymer has gone on to create reusable cups, signage, bottle caps, and more, with additional products in research and development.
- We also partnered with Lessonia, a global cosmetics designer and manufacturer. They’ve used Inficaf to create a coffee ground exfoliator for cosmetics and body care products, displacing the need for grounds from virgin green coffee beans.
- Coffee Logs have grown from strength to strength as an efficient, truly sustainable solid fuel. We added Tesco and ASDA to our list of retailers and now the logs are flying off the shelves in 4 major supermarkets, 2 DIY retailers, and hundreds of garden centres and independent shops across the UK.
- Our commitment to the environment helped us gain recognition for the second year running as a Best for the World B Corp. This means we scored in the top 5% in the Environment impact area out of all global B Corps in our size group.
- The environment is just one of our stakeholders. In October we published our first-ever impact report, highlighting some of our recent activities to continually improve our impact not just on our planet, but on people too.
Looking ahead to 2023
We can deliver our greatest impact by doing more of what we do best – processing greater volumes of spent coffee grounds. So one of our key areas of focus for the next year is exactly that.
We’re aiming to increase our average annual processing volume to 10,000+ tonnes. We have the capacity to do so already.
Inficaf is continuing to draw interest from the plastics and packaging industries, the cosmetics industry, automotive friction, foundry, and more. And given it has up to a 17-fold increase in greenhouse gas emissions savings potential compared to the alternative standard disposal method, another key area of focus for us is selling more of this material.
In 2023 we’ll also go through the B Corp recertification process, aiming for a score of above 110.
And as we always say, we’re nothing without our dedicated team. So internally, we’ll be focusing on continued development and upskilling.
We’ve a lot to be excited about moving into 2023. Here’s to a new year of creating even more sustainable impact!
To keep up with all our news, follow us on LinkedIn!
The significant value of spent coffee grounds
Coffee – the ubiquitous drink that transcends all political and geographical boundaries, bringing the world’s morning warriors and late-night labourers together in a ritual daily sigh of caffeinated relief.
The world population drinks over 2.25 billion cups of coffee every day. The UK alone is responsible for 98 million of those cups. With an estimated average of 11 grams of fresh ground coffee going into each cup, around 393,500 tonnes of ground coffee are brewed every year, resulting in an estimated quarter of a million tonnes of wet, waste coffee grounds.
But once the coffee’s been poured what happens to all those spent grounds?
Typically, spent coffee grounds are dumped into general waste and sent to landfill where they decompose and emit methane – a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period, and one of the primary causes of global warming. This level of detrimental waste is a calamity in itself.
In some cases spent grounds are sent to anaerobic digestion along with food waste. But at high volumes, spent coffee grounds have been shown to inhibit the desired biomethane production. Not to mention they sink to the bottom of AD ‘bellies’ and require scooping out and discarding afterall.
As the world’s love of coffee is unlikely to wane, let’s take a closer look at this material we’re treating as waste and examine what we’re really throwing away in those grounds.
There is residual value in spent coffee grounds
The process of roasting green coffee beans generates hundreds of volatile chemical compounds responsible for the unmistakable flavour and aroma of the world’s favourite hot drink. Not to mention the oils, caffeine and range of other beneficial compounds (such as antioxidants) that exist within the beans. Brewing the coffee grounds, as it turns out, does not fully exhaust those compounds within. In fact, spent coffee grounds still retain up to a third of the volatile aroma and flavour compounds as contained in the fresh roasted beans.
Spent coffee grounds also make for a versatile and sustainable bulk raw material. They can be used to displace virgin or synthetic, often petroleum-based elements in plastics, printing inks, cosmetics, packaging, textiles, and more.
Coffee grounds are also high in calorific value, meaning they burn hot… very hot. In fact, when compressed into fire logs they burn 20% hotter than conventional dry wood fuels. And they avoid the carbon-heavy footprint associated with coal-based smokeless fuels or mass-imported wood logs.
In other words, there is still significant value remaining in spent coffee grounds – value which to date has not yet been fully realised.
Throwing away this precious natural resource that still has broad and significant value and applications across a number of industries is a superfluous act of consumption that perfectly demonstrates the take, make, dispose approach of our current linear economic structure. Sure, low volumes of spent coffee grounds can be great for fertilising domestic gardens, but until the past few years, spent coffee grounds have been largely overlooked as a valid, sustainable resource on an industrial scale.
bio-bean’s solution for valorising spent coffee
Enter bio-bean. We’re the world’s largest coffee recycling company, processing thousands of tonnes of spent coffee grounds every year into sustainable bio-products for a circular economy.
We work within the existing logistics and waste management infrastructure in the UK to collect these spent grounds from businesses at every scale, from leading coffee chains and large transport hubs to office buildings, instant coffee manufacturers, restaurants and small independent cafés. Once the grounds are tipped at our facility in Cambridgeshire, we process and upcycle them, ready for reuse in a variety of products for both industry and consumers.
There really is no such thing as waste, only value that hasn’t yet been extracted.
For more information on our coffee recycling service, visit the Renewals page on our website.
This blog has been updated from the original, posted 28th August 2019
bio-bean a Best For The World™ B Corp 2022
Press Release: bio-bean recognised for the second year running as a Best For The World™ for exceptional impact on the Environment
Alconbury Weald, Cambridgeshire, UK, 13 July 2022 — bio-bean, the world’s expert in recycling spent coffee grounds, has once again been named a Best for the World™ B Corp™ in recognition of its exceptional positive impact on the environment. Best for the World is a distinction granted by B Lab to Certified B Corporations (B Corps) whose verified B Impact Scores in the five evaluated areas — community, customers, environment, governance, and workers — rank in the top 5% of all B Corps in their corresponding size group (10-49 people).
bio-bean earned this honour for the second year running because of its impact business model of recycling spent coffee grounds and transforming them into a variety of sustainable bio-products. The Cambridgeshire-based company works with existing waste management and logistics infrastructure to divert businesses’ spent coffee grounds from traditional disposal methods like landfill, anaerobic digestion, and incineration. The team then processes and upcycles the grounds, ready for reuse in the company’s various coffee-derived bio-products.
Since founding, bio-bean has processed just under 32,000 tonnes of spent coffee grounds. And as it turns out, their solution of recycling spent grounds into bio-products is better for the environment than all the other standard disposal methods (landfill, anaerobic digestion, and incineration). In fact, they save 228% more in greenhouse gas emissions versus spent grounds going to anaerobic digestion.
George May, Managing Director of bio-bean, had this to say of the company’s Best for the World recognition:
“Being recognised as a Best for the World B Corp in the Environment impact area for a second year is a huge honour for us. To be among the top 5% of more than 5,000 B Corps globally, and one of only 6 UK companies to be honoured for positive environmental impact is something we’re extremely proud of.
Environmental sustainability is at the heart of what we do, but we’re also focused on continuous improvement, including in our day-to-day operations. We will continue collaborating with the global B Corp community and others to improve and positively impact all our stakeholders, in every impact area.”
Every year, Best for the World recognizes the top-performing B Corps creating the greatest positive impact through their businesses. More than a badge of honour, Best for the World provides an opportunity for recognised companies to share knowledge, learnings, and best practices with the B Corp community and businesses outside of the community to encourage innovation and transformation across the business sector. The full lists are available at bcorporation.net.
The Best for the World recognition is administered by B Lab, the global non-profit network that certifies and mobilises B Corps, which are businesses that meet high standards of positive social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Today, there are more than 5,000 B Corps across 80 countries and 155 industries, unified by one common goal: building an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system.
“Each Best for the World edition is an opportunity to raise the bar for how businesses can and should operate to create real and lasting positive impact for their workers, customers, communities, and the environment,” said Dan Osusky, Head of Standards and Insights at B Lab Global. “While no company is perfect and even the best companies can and should continue to strive to improve, the B Corps recognised as Best for the World can provide us all — standards setters, B Corps, non B Corps, and sustainability advocates — with inspiration on what true leadership in business can look like to make progress on addressing our current global challenges.”
B Corp Certification doesn’t just evaluate a product or service, it assesses the overall social and environmental impact of the company that stands behind it. To achieve B Corp Certification, a company must meet a score of at least 80 points on the B Impact Assessment, an evaluation of a company’s positive impact, and pass a risk review, an evaluation of a company’s negative impact; change their corporate governance structure to be accountable to all stakeholders, not just shareholders; and exhibit transparency by allowing information about their B Corp Certification performance to be publicly available on their B Corp profile on B Lab’s website.
About bio-bean: bio-bean Limited is the world’s largest recycler of coffee grounds. Based in Cambridgeshire, bio-bean takes spent coffee grounds from businesses large and small across the UK and transforms them into value at an industrial scale, giving new life to a material previously considered waste. bio-bean manufactures sustainable products from spent coffee grounds for a range of markets, both consumer and industrial, saving businesses money, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and contributing to the circular economy. For more information on bio-bean, visit www.bio-bean.com.
About B Lab: B Lab is transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet. A leader in economic systems change, our global network creates standards, policies, tools, and programs for business, and we certify companies — known as B Corps — who are leading the way. To date, our community includes 400,000 workers in over 5,000 B Corps across 80 countries and 155 industries, and more than 200,000 companies manage their impact with the B Impact Assessment and the SDG Action Manager. B Lab has created and led efforts to pass over 50 corporate statutes globally that enable stakeholder governance, with over 10,000 companies using the legal framework. To learn more and join the movement, visit www.bcorporation.net.
B Lab Contact: email@example.com
Our carbon footprint
We recently undertook a carbon footprint assessment through Eunomia Research & Consulting to determine our environmental impact.
With the urgent state of our climate emergency, it isn’t enough for businesses to simply say they’re eco-friendly, sustainable, or making a positive impact. People want to (and deserve to) know exactly what that means. And, rightly so, businesses must increasingly show evidence for environmental claims.
This includes us at bio-bean.
In 2021 Eunomia gathered data to create a carbon footprint analysis model for us. They included information on every step of our process and manufacturing, from the transport of spent coffee grounds to our recycling facility to the end usage of our highest selling products.
Our carbon impact
Eunomia’s results show that our total carbon footprint is -187kg CO2e for every tonne1 of spent grounds that we process. It’s a net negative impact, which is very much a positive! It basically means that for every tonne of spent coffee grounds we upcycle, we save 187kg CO2e versus those grounds being disposed of in traditional ways.
What is CO2e? It means carbon dioxide equivalent, which is a unit of measurement used to compare the emissions of various greenhouse gases. It’s a standard unit for measuring carbon footprints.
So, what does 187kg CO2e look like? It’s the equivalent of the emissions produced by 464 miles driven by an average car, or 22,747 smartphones charged. We save that much for every tonne of spent grounds we upcycle… and to date we’ve processed just under 32,000 tonnes of spent coffee grounds.
As it turns out, our solution of recycling spent coffee grounds into our various sustainable bio-products is better for the environment than all the other standard disposal methods (landfill, anaerobic digestion, and incineration). In fact, we save 228% more in greenhouse gas emissions versus spent grounds going to anaerobic digestion.
The carbon footprints of our products
And when it comes to the individual footprint of our primary products, Coffee Logs and Inficaf, you can see below that we save up to 1,030kg of CO2e for every tonne of spent grounds we process. This figure includes our processing and manufacturing and the end use of the product.
There really is no more sustainable solution for managing large volumes of spent coffee grounds than our recycling solution here at bio-bean. And with such significant value still present within the grounds after they’ve been brewed, it’s a shame to waste their potential by wastefully discarding them.
We give spent coffee grounds a second life. And even better, it’s easy for businesses to get on board.
We help businesses reduce their greenhouse gas emissions
Spent coffee grounds are a naturally clean by-product, segregated at source by baristas and bean-to-cup machines, and are readily identifiable. From the barista preparing the coffee and depositing the used grounds into specified bags or bins, through collections via your business’s waste management or logistics company, it’s a simple process with potentially high impact in reducing your greenhouse gas emissions.
The numbers speak for themselves. Not only are we the world’s largest coffee recycling company, we’re also best for the environment when it comes to disposal of spent coffee grounds.
Get in touch today to find out more about our spent coffee recycling and our coffee-derived bio-products, including Inficaf, our natural flavouring extract, and our solid fuels.
1 Based on output of 90% Coffee Logs and 10% Inficaf (displacing polypropylene). As Inficaf sales grow, so too will our emissions savings.
2 Includes processing, manufacturing and end use of product.
3 Based on 50% mined and 50% synthetic calcium carbonate.
Step #BehindTheB this B Corp Month
The arrival of March brings this year’s B Corp Month, and as a Certified B CorporationTM, we’re taking part in the month-long campaign to help raise awareness of how the B Corp community is using business as a force for good. Throughout the month, we’re inviting you to see what goes on #BehindTheB.
Being a B Corp is something we’re really proud of, so for the next 30 days, we’ll be sharing what that means to us and why it matters, now more than ever.
What is a B Corp?
Certified B Corporations are a select group of for-profit companies using the power of business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
B Corps are verified, through a rigorous assessment process, to have met the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Essentially, being a B Corp means valuing your workers, customers, environment, and community as much as your profits — and having corporate governance that keeps those values in place.
The B Corp Movement is growing globally and rapidly. There are now over 4,000 B Corps in the world, and over 600 here in the UK.
What does being a B Corp mean to us?
B Corp recognises businesses that are working to bring about change and operate in a way that seeks to benefit the wider community, whilst it also provides a framework for continuous improvement. For us, the ethos behind B Corp is aligned with what we are trying to achieve at bio-bean.
We believe that businesses are the best vehicles for driving change and delivering impact (both social and environmental). We consider that for a business to be successful it must be more than simply profitable. So to become a B Corp is a fantastic recognition of the business that the team has built, as well as being a clear marker for the way in which we will operate going forward.
Since we gained B Corp status in October 2020, we’ve been working on a variety of improvements. We’ll be sharing some of these throughout this month, and later this year we’ll be publishing our first B Impact Report.
For now, stay tuned to our social media profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) throughout March to find out what’s #BehindTheB!
bio-bean: 2021 in review
Well, when we did our last year in review 12 months ago, we certainly didn’t think at the time that Covid would still be putting a damper on everything. Yet here we are… But despite the many ups, downs, and twisted turnarounds we’ve all experienced, for us, 2021 has been a year of growth in many ways.
Looking back, here are a few of our 2021 highlights we’re particularly proud of…
We started off the year with a featured article in Perfumer & Flavorist, in which we highlight the opportunity for brands to make an impact by upcycling materials otherwise considered waste.
In February, we announced our supporting partnership for WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), to actively support implementation of their UK Food Waste Reduction Roadmap.
A key objective of the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap is to have the UK’s largest 250 food businesses measuring, reporting and acting on food waste by 2026. So, by signing a commitment to the Roadmap, we’re committed to helping these businesses do just that.
Every year in March the B Corp community runs a month-long campaign to celebrate and champion what it means to be a Certified B Corporation. The theme this year was Better Business and George, our MD, wrote a blog to share his thoughts on what it means to be a better business.
One of our key activities during B Corp Month was signing up to support the Better Business Act (BBA). The BBA is the campaign, led by B Lab UK, to change UK law to make sure that businesses are required to put balancing people, planet and profit at the heart of their purpose and the responsibility of their directors.
For more information on the BBA, and to get involved, visit betterbusinessact.org.
April saw the end of our Coffee Logs season. We achieved record sales across the winter months, getting our fire logs made from spent coffee grounds out to more homes, displacing more coal and imported logs than ever before.
A member of our ops team, Tom, had his moment in the spotlight when he featured in C4’s ‘Food Unwrapped’ alongside Amanda Byram! Our segment aired as part of the episode titled ‘Food Unwrapped Does Takeaways’. The episode is available to watch on playback on Channel 4’s website.
In June, Costa Coffee – the Nation’s Favourite Coffee shop – pledged to continue recycling its spent coffee grounds with us for a further two years, building on our successful partnership that started in 2016.
Rather than sending the grounds to a landfill, around 1,500 Costa Coffee stores segregate their spent coffee grounds before sending them to our recycling facility.
This summer we launched Inficaf: upcycled spent coffee grounds with infinite possibility. Inficaf is a versatile, sustainable raw material for innovative product development in industries such as (bio)plastics, cosmetics and friction/abrasion. As the world increasingly demands sustainable alternatives, Inficaf displaces virgin or synthetic materials for new commercial and industrial applications.
To discuss using Inficaf in your products, get in touch with us today.
Another major highlight for us in July was being recognised as a Best for the Environment B Corp for 2021! The Best for the World are B Corps whose scores reach the top 5% of all B Corps worldwide in one or more of the five impact areas assessed towards the certification.
At bio-bean we were recognized, out of more than 4,000 B Corps worldwide, for our efforts in the Environment area. It’s a recognition we’re extremely proud of, but our efforts don’t stop there. With sustainability at the heart of everything we do, we’re continuously working to improve the way we do things, and therefore our impact on the environment as well as our workers and the wider community.
In September we closed an investment round, raising funds to support further automation and operational efficiencies in the factory.
The arrival of autumnal weather meant Coffee Logs hit retailers’ shelves again across the UK. And this year, our planet-friendly fire logs powered by coffee hit Tesco shelves for the first time ever. After just 4 seasons of selling Coffee Logs, we’re proud to now be stocked in 3 major supermarkets, along with 2 major DIY retailers, several garden centre chains and hundreds of independent shops across the nation.
We’ve finished off the year with Inficaf showcased in a piece of wall art in McDonald’s new net zero location in Shropshire. We’re proud to have worked with them to help demonstrate sustainable innovations possible in the hospitality sector and others.
Of course, we’ve not been spared from Covid disruptions. Indeed, we don’t believe any business has. Despite ongoing Covid complications, since the 1st of January we’ve recycled 6,400 tonnes of spent coffee grounds from hundreds of businesses across the UK, and thus have saved over 2,700 tonnes of CO2e emissions. This amount is equal to 6.8 million road miles driven by an average car!
We’re extremely proud of how each one of our staff members have banded together to fill in gaps, keep things running smoothly, and, most importantly, help keep one another safe. Our team are outstanding in their dedication and willingness to pitch in and be flexible, and they deserve this recognition.
Looking ahead to 2022
We’re brewing up some exciting things for 2022, including new coffee collection collaborations coming to the fore, and some exciting product innovations in the pipeline with a few of our partners.
We’ll also be publishing our first B Impact Report later in the year, highlighting the steps we’ve taken to boost our impact since our certification to B Corp status in October 2020.
If you’re interested in partnering with us, whether through recycling your business’s spent grounds, innovating with Inficaf or selling Coffee Logs, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Best for the World B Corps 2021
We have just been named as one of the Best for the WorldTM B Corps of 2021!
What is Best for the World?
The Best for the World are B Corps whose scores reach the top 5% of all B Corps worldwide in one or more of the five impact areas assessed towards the certification.
At bio-bean we are recognized, out of more than 4,000 B Corps worldwide, for our efforts in the Environment area.
Given that all B Corps already meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose, this is a recognition that we are incredibly proud of!
Why are we Best for the Environment?
Our business is built on a foundation of environmental sustainability. It’s inherent in what we do: upcycling spent coffee grounds into sustainable bio-based products for a circular economy. We reduce waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to the circular economy. But what about how we do it?
Well, we’ve taken various measures over the years to reduce our environmental impact. We work with existing waste management and logistics companies to collect the spent coffee grounds, thereby reducing the number of road miles and subsequent emissions in the process. We use a large-scale biomass boiler to power our upcycling process at our facility, and we have various water-saving measures in place as well.
But more than that, we’re undertaking an internal project – a Sustainability Improvement Plan – with input from our entire team. The project examines our day-to-day operations with the objective to continuously improve the way we do things, and therefore our impact on the environment as well as our workers and the wider community.
And of course, we’re not doing it alone. As part of the global B Corp community, we’re sharing and gaining insights into best practice for using our business as a force for good.
We are so proud to be named Best for the Environment! And congratulations to all our outstanding, fellow Best for the World B Corps.
You can see our B Impact Score and more details on our B Impact Assessment Report.
For more information on Best for the World, and to see the full list for 2021, visit the B Corp website.
Costa Coffee is extending partnership with bio-bean
Costa Coffee, the Nation’s Favourite Coffee shop, has pledged to continue recycling its spent coffee grounds with us for a further two years, building on our successful partnership that started in 2016.
Rather than sending the grounds to a landfill, the around 1,500 Costa Coffee stores will segregate the spent coffee grounds before sending them to our recycling facility.
We then process and upcycle the grounds into various bio-products, including flavour ingredients for food and beverage manufacturing, as well as a bulk, raw material which displaces virgin or synthetic materials in a wide range of industrial applications, including (bio)plastics, cosmetics and automotive friction.
We also recycle the spent grounds into Coffee Logs: sustainable fire logs for use in domestic wood-burning and multi-fuel stoves. The logs provide an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional solid fuels, and by recycling spent coffee grounds in this way, we save 80% on CO2e emissions compared to the grounds being sent to landfill, and 70% compared to the grounds being sent to an anaerobic digestion facility.
Our partnership with Costa gives a second life to the coffee grounds used to create millions of handcrafted coffees across the UK, maximising their potential as a resource that can be used again in circular and innovative ways.
A Costa Coffee spokesperson said: “We’re delighted to be extending our partnership with bio-bean for another two years, helping us further reduce our impact on the environment from bean to cup and beyond. We’re proud to be working with such an innovative company and together, over the past 5 years, have put thousands of tonnes of spent Costa coffee grounds to work, transforming them into sustainable, circular bio-based products.”
George May, our Managing Director, said: “Since our relationship began in 2016, Costa Coffee has been a leader in its efforts to reduce coffee ground waste, demonstrating an ever-increasing commitment to addressing the climate emergency through progressive and innovative partnerships like ours.
We’re thrilled that Costa has extended our partnership. We look forward to making the most of the relationship, recycling even more spent grounds, further reducing greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to the circular economy, and generally increasing our collective sustainable impact.”
Better business is better for all
This past month has been B Corp Month: an annual, global, month-long campaign celebrating and championing what it is to be a B CorpTM. The theme this year was Better Business. Being a ‘better business’ means you prioritise constant improvement to ensure you continuously exceed the expectations, demands and needs of society and the planet. It also means placing stakeholders at the centre of your business decisions.
On this final day of B Corp Month, we asked George, our MD, to share his thoughts on what it means to be a better business…
The B Corp movement is one that I have been aware of for a number of years, prompted by my brother certifying his business, Coschool, as a B Corp out in Colombia back in 2015. After joining bio-bean in the same year it struck me that the B Corp ethos is aligned to what bio-bean is seeking to achieve.
Certified B CorporationsTM are a select (but growing) group of for-profit companies using the power of business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. B Corps are verified, through a rigorous assessment process, to have met the highest standards of “social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose”.
B Corps are building global awareness and driving a movement of people using business as a force for good – taking the lead to both deliver and set an example of what is right, fair and sustainable in business.
We (bio-bean) certified as a B Corp in late 2020. It is a fantastic achievement and one that took a great deal of effort from the whole team. Certification is both validation of what we have achieved and how we intend to move forward. It’s also a public, legally binding marker as to how the business will be run.
The part of the certification process that is perhaps least well known is that B Corps are legally required to amend their company’s Articles of Association. It must state that the company exists to promote the success of the business for the benefit not only of its shareholders, but also have a material positive impact on society and the environment.
The governing documents of a B Corp state the company’s commitment to consider a range of ‘stakeholder interests’ when making decisions, including those of shareholders, employees, suppliers, society and the environment. Critically, the documents also state that shareholder value is not the supreme consideration, but rather just one factor amongst the many stakeholder interests.
We are fortunate at bio-bean in that both our board and the majority of our shareholders are equally aligned with the B Corp approach and the need to consider a wider stakeholder base, as well as ensure that we have a positive impact on the environment.
So, when it came to amending our Articles, the approval from the board was unanimous. They understood that a stakeholder governance approach, where we take into consideration the interests of all identifiable stakeholders (staff, community, customers, the environment), would benefit the business and ultimately help us create big change that lasts.
Benefits of adopting a stakeholder governance mindset
B Corps benefit from higher levels of innovation and they experience greater levels of employee retention, engagement and diversity, alongside faster growth in turnover.
We certified less than 6 months ago, and so we’re still embedding into the B Corp system and community. However, there have already been noticeable benefits and opportunities through engaging with other B Corps and providing us with a framework to approach decisions.
We’re also, prompted in part by the B Impact Assessment, working on plans to improve how we operate across all areas of the business, and I’m looking forward to seeing what impacts our being a B Corp has on our team, our community and our wider outputs over the medium and longer term.
And in the spirit of transparency, our current B Impact Report is publicly available for all to see.
We continue to build on the foundation of our certification and are proud to be part of a growing and driven band of companies. In the UK, B Corps span some 50-odd industries, with over 20,000 employees and a combined revenue of nearly £4.5 billion. The B Corp movement is a true vehicle for change and one that is increasing in influence and reach.
When you consider that 75% of the UK public believe businesses should have a legal responsibility to the planet and people, alongside maximising profit, and that they have a responsibility to protect the natural environment (B Lab UK survey, May 2020), it raises a very pertinent question… why don’t they? What if all businesses acted purposefully and responsibly, ensuring a cleaner, greener, fairer future for all?
In light of this, I am proud that bio-bean is not only a B Corp but will be supporting the Better Business Act (BBA) campaign which launches today (31 March). The BBA is the campaign, led by B Lab UK, to change UK law to make sure that businesses are required to put balancing people, planet and profit at the heart of their purpose and the responsibility of their directors.