How to recycle your waste coffee grounds at work
As coffee enthusiasts, we tend to focus more on what type of coffee beans and blends we’re drinking and not so much on what happens to the coffee grounds once they’ve been brewed. Let alone how to recycle your waste coffee grounds!
Our love of coffee in the UK leads to an estimated quarter of a million tonnes of used coffee grounds each year that typically end up being wastefully discarded through disposal options like landfill or anaerobic digestion. That amount of spent grounds is equivalent to the weight* of approximately 3,000 blue whales.
Our daily lattes and cappuccinos, while they keep us caffeinated and connected, also create a considerable hidden waste stream. And when left to biodegrade in landfill, the coffee grounds emit harmful greenhouse gases including methane, a major culprit of rising global temperatures.
But we’ve created an innovative, scaled recycling solution to make the most of this material long considered a waste: we recycle it into valuable products for a circular economy.
The benefits of recycling waste coffee grounds
By diverting spent grounds from waste and recycling them we save 228% more in CO2e emissions versus letting them go to anaerobic digestion. Which means that through our unique coffee recycling service, you have an opportunity to raise your business’s sustainability credentials and achieve zero waste targets.
Opting to recycle your spent grounds rather than discard them offers the additional benefit of reducing waste disposal fees. Wet, and therefore heavy waste coffee grounds can contribute to a hefty landfill tax set at £98.60 per tonne (as of April 2022). But at bio-bean we don’t charge a tipping fee, so typically there is a saving to be made by recycling grounds through our service.
“The idea that our coffee grinds are being turned into fuel to heat local homes is really exciting and we hope this inspires other companies to find ways to recycle and reduce waste in their local areas too.” Says Katherine Laden of Harris + Hoole, a speciality coffee shop chain.
How does the coffee recycling service work?
We work with waste management and logistics companies to collect spent coffee grounds from businesses at every scale – from coffee shops and office blocks to airports, universities, and instant coffee factories.
Some businesses with a large network use a backhaul model. Smaller organisations and independent coffee shops can receive appropriately-sized wheelie bins or caddies and have their waste grounds collected by their waste management company at the same time as their general waste.
The type of collection depends on the volume of spent grounds your organisation generates, its location and available logistics. But we aim for collections to occur within existing waste collection rounds in order to avoid putting additional vehicles on the road.
When your segregated spent grounds are collected, they’re then delivered to our facility in Cambridgeshire. We first decontaminate, process and dry the grounds, and then renew them for reuse in sustainable products to benefit both people and the planet.
Where is the service available?
We currently recycle spent coffee grounds collected from London, Birmingham, Manchester, Brighton and a few other, smaller locations. And we’re seeking to collaborate on sustainable collection models in more locations.
How can I find out more?
To keep up to date with our recycling service news, sign up to our newsletter. If you want to recycle your waste coffee grounds now, get in touch with your waste management supplier to see if they’re doing collections in your area.
(*) COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the Blue Whale
This blog has been updated from the original, posted 23rd September 2021.
There’s no such thing as waste coffee!
According to the World Bank, we currently generate over 2 billion tonnes of solid waste globally each year, with projections reaching 3.4 billion tonnes by 2050. Almost 40% of that waste goes to landfill where it generates harmful greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane, contributing to climate change.
Globally individuals, businesses, and governments are making significant efforts to cut waste from plastics, food, and textiles. But what about the hidden waste streams that go unnoticed?
Coffee doesn’t have to be wasteful
Let’s take, for example, coffee. The world’s love of coffee means that globally we consume over 2.25 billion cups of coffee every day. The UK alone accounts for 98 million of those daily cups. And with an estimated average of 11 grams of fresh ground coffee going into each cup, a staggering 9 million tonnes of ground coffee are brewed round the world every year. This results in an estimated 18 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 emit methane – a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide and one of the primary causes of global warming. Or they’re sent to anaerobic digestion or incineration, disposal methods which don’t utilise the full potential of the grounds as a resource.
This level of detrimental waste is a calamity in itself. But as the world’s love of coffee is unlikely to wane, it’s crucial we find ways to recycle, renew and reuse this byproduct.
bio-bean’s sustainable solutions for coffee waste
Here at bio-bean, we’re proud to be the world’s largest recycler of coffee grounds. We work with companies in the UK, large and small, to transform these spent coffee grounds into value at an industrial scale, giving new life to this material previously considered waste.
Since starting in 2013, we’ve recycled over 30,000 tonnes of spent coffee grounds!
Over the years we’ve developed the technology and processes to upcycle spent coffee grounds into a range of sustainable bio-product solutions for both consumer and industrial markets.
We extract residual compounds from food-grade spent coffee grounds, producing a natural, sustainable flavouring ingredient for the food and beverage industry. Our bulk raw material, Inficaf, is perfect for product innovations in industries such as plastics and bio-plastics, cosmetics, automotive friction, packaging, and more. And our biomass solid fuels, including Coffee Logs, exploit the naturally high calorific value of spent coffee grounds, providing sustainable alternatives to carbon-heavy coal-based fuels, virgin biomass, and imported wood logs.
Our coffee recycling and renewals service reduces the financial implications and inefficiencies of traditional disposal methods, whilst achieving significant environmental benefits. Our solution saves businesses money, reduces waste and subsequent greenhouse gas emissions, and contributes to the circular economy.
To us, there’s no such thing as waste coffee. Rather, it’s only a resource typically sent to the wrong place.
Start the simple step of recycling your business’s spent coffee grounds by contacting us today.
This blog has been updated from the original, posted 9th September 2020.
Is recycling waste coffee grounds the best choice?
The UK drinks 98 million cups of coffee every day, creating around 250,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds every year. So what happens to all that waste coffee, and is there a better choice?
What typically happens to spent coffee grounds?
Of course some businesses set aside a small volume of their waste coffee grounds for customers to take home as garden fertiliser. In small amounts the grounds can also make a great homemade exfoliant.
But typically, heavy wet coffee grounds often end up in general waste, which usually goes to landfill. In the UK, a landfill tax (currently around £98.60/tonne) is levied on landfill site operators, who pass this cost on to their customers via higher collection fees. Additionally, waste management companies regularly charge for contaminated dry mixed recycling.
Not to mention the environmental damage of sending waste coffee grounds to landfill, where they emit harmful greenhouse gases including methane. Methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 100 year period, and one of the leading causes of climate change.
Waste coffee grounds can also be sent off to anaerobic digestion (AD) plants with other food waste where, in the absence of oxygen, microorganisms break down biodegradable material for managing waste or producing fuel. But this isn’t ideal, either. Some AD plants don’t like a high volume of used coffee grounds in their process as the grounds tend to sink to the bottom of the ‘belly’, inhibiting the rate of biomethane production.
Alternatively, waste grounds combined with food waste are sometimes incinerated for purposes of energy generation. While incinerating coffee grounds is better than sending them to landfill, it is still not the best use of this resource (not least because they are wet). Incinerating spent coffee grounds does not harness the material’s full potential.
bio-bean’s coffee recycling solution saves money and greenhouse gas emissions
Of those three disposal methods, AD makes best use of the grounds. At bio-bean, however, we are able to do even better. We fully utilise this discarded resource by removing heavy, wet coffee grounds from the wider waste stream and recycling them into a number of sustainable, circular-economy focused, high-performance bio-products. Not only does our coffee disposal and recycling service generate significant savings for businesses, it also saves on greenhouse gas emissions.
We don’t charge a gate fee at our recycling facility. So by removing heavy, wet grounds from general or food waste, there is a potential financial savings for businesses who choose to instead recycle their grounds through us.
And an independent life cycle assessment recently completed for bio-bean shows that sending coffee grounds to our factory for recycling into our various products produces 228% less CO2e emissions than sending them to AD!
Even nationwide coffee shop chains choose bio-bean
One of our longest standing customers is Costa Coffee, the leading UK coffee retail chain (bought by Coca-Cola in 2018) with whom we have been working for over 6 years, recycling nearly 23,000 tonnes of their spent coffee thus far. Oliver Rosevear, former Head of Environment at Costa, said “our ground-breaking work with bio-bean enables us to put thousands of tonnes of Costa coffee grounds to work, diverting 37% by weight of all our waste and thus saving 5,100 tonnes of CO2e emissions. This has made a real impact to our environmental credentials, helping to gain us the official status of the UK’s most ethical coffee shop.”
It is clear that recycling waste coffee through bio-bean is the best commercial and environmental choice for coffee disposal.
To find out more about recycling your business’s spent coffee grounds, contact your waste management provider or get in touch with us today.
This blog has been updated from the original, posted 29th August 2019.
bio-bean Inficaf named a cofinitive #21toWatch Top21.2022
Our latest product to market, Inficaf, has been named as one of the top #21toWatch for 2022 by cofinitive. The award recognises the People, Companies, and the ‘Things’ that they create that are setting the standards in innovation and entrepreneurship across the globe.
Our MD, George May, and our Head of Commercial, Matt Keniston, received the award yesterday evening during a bespoke event where Matt had the opportunity to present to a specially selected audience of investors, professional services, entrepreneurs, developers, and other relevant businesses.
Matt accepted the award on behalf of bio-bean and spoke about why Inficaf is a sustainable materials solution for innovative product development. Inficaf is made from upcycled spent coffee grounds collected from UK coffee shops, office blocks, transport hubs and instant coffee manufacturers. It’s a consistent, yet versatile material that reduces overall carbon emissions, and has applications in plastics, automotive friction, cosmetics, building materials, and more.
Matt said: “We are proud that Inficaf has been included in the top #21ToWatch list, as the recognition will help us to raise awareness of the product, and ultimately lead to greater sustainable impact.”
cofinitive’s founder Faye Holland said: “We are delighted that bio-bean has been named in our Top21.2022 #21toWatch list. The accolade is well deserved, and we look forward to following their progress.”
“Over the past 12 months we’ve continued to collate hundreds of submissions in response to our #21toWatch campaign and the criteria we set was pretty tough: each submission, whether it was a company, individual or ‘thing’ that they create, had to demonstrate a set of attributes: Innovation; Challenge; Influence; Viability; and Memorability. Our independent judges all agreed that all our winners have the potential for huge impact on a personal, company or product basis”.
Click here to find out more about Inficaf, or get in touch.
To learn more about the cofinitive #21toWatch campaign, head to the cofinitive website.
Introducing Inficaf: bio-bean’s latest innovation from spent coffee
We’re in the business of creating impactful, sustainable change by innovating through coffee waste. And our latest innovation does just that.
We’re proud to introduce Inficaf: upcycled coffee with infinite possibility.
Spent coffee grounds, renewed and upcycled for reuse, are a sustainable, bulk raw material with versatility across a wide variety of industries. From plastics to automotive friction, and from cosmetics to textiles and more, spent coffee grounds offer a sustainable alternative to virgin or synthetic materials whilst also reducing waste.
The world drinks approximately 2.5 billion cups of coffee every day, creating an estimated 18 million tonnes of spent coffee grounds every year.
Typically, those spent coffee grounds are sent to landfill or anaerobic digestion, neither of which make use of the residual value within this resource.
But what if, instead, those grounds could displace conventional fillers in brake pads, or petroleum-based compounds in plastics? What if they could become the key ingredient in a beauty exfoliant rather than fresh grounds from green coffee beans? Or be used in fabric fibres to replace some of the synthetics?
Well, they can. And by diverting spent coffee grounds from landfill and instead upcycling them for reuse in a circular economy, we reduce waste and subsequent greenhouse gas emissions, and we drive behaviour change, helping the world to rethink ‘waste’.
Inficaf is made from spent coffee grounds collected from UK businesses at every scale, including coffee shops, office blocks, airports and instant coffee manufacturers. When the grounds arrive at our facility in Cambridgeshire, we process and dry them to requirement before sieving and packing them up for innovative, new commercial and industrial applications.
Inficaf is consistent in particle size, moisture content and bulk density, making it a versatile raw material for businesses seeking to create transformative change.
The possibilities are endless. What will you make with Inficaf?
For more information on this raw material, visit the Inficaf page on our website.
To discuss using Inficaf in your products, get in touch.
What is bio-bean Renewals?
As the world’s largest recycler of coffee grounds, we recycle and renew spent grounds on an industrial scale. We process spent grounds and transform them for use in more than just their original coffee beverage. So a core part of what we do is what we call bio-bean Renewals.
Coffee grounds provide us with a daily hit of caffeine. Brewed grounds fuel our brains and bodies with boosts of stimulation and energy. They give us a feeling of comfort as we prepare to face the day. But coffee grounds can do so much more, and when we discard them after brewing, we waste their residual value.
Typically grounds are sent to either landfill or anaerobic digestion where they emit greenhouse gases, or they’re simply inefficiently incinerated. And with an estimated half a million tonnes of waste coffee grounds produced annually in the UK, at bio-bean we see this as a huge resource unnecessarily wasted.
So we provide a better solution: we recycle and renew coffee grounds into a valuable material whilst reducing emissions.
bio-bean Renewals: Coffee Recycling
We work with the existing waste management and logistics infrastructure to collect spent coffee grounds from businesses large and small across the UK. We take grounds from coffee shops and office blocks to rail stations and airports.
When the grounds are delivered to our factory in Cambridgeshire we condition and dry them, renewing them for reuse in valuable products to benefit both people and planet.
This simple and efficient coffee recycling service means our clients can save money whilst becoming more sustainable. Heavy, wet coffee grounds weigh down whichever waste stream they enter. Typically this increases the collection fees for the businesses keeping us caffeinated. So instead by recycling their grounds, businesses can reduce the weight of their waste and the costs associated with disposal.
bio-bean Renewals: Dried Grounds
Since our founding in 2013 we’ve been developing and refining our technology to process and dry wet coffee grounds into a valuable raw material. And as the world increasingly demands sustainable alternatives, recycled coffee grounds offer an environmentally friendly material for innovative new products.
While others have made use of spent coffee grounds in a variety of innovative but small-scale products, the challenge is sourcing enough of the raw material to expand these efforts. And the difficulty with recycling spent coffee grounds at scale is in removing both the contaminants and moisture.
Because at bio-bean we’re able to renew large volumes of coffee waste for reuse, our dried spent coffee grounds offer a breadth of opportunity: from automotive parts to 3D printing, and to bioplastics making up objects like trays, tableware or sunglasses.
And because recycled, dried coffee grounds are a consistent, sustainable raw material, they’re perfect for businesses seeking to create transformative change.
If you’re interested in recycling your business’s coffee grounds with bio-bean Renewals, or you’re looking for a sustainable raw material for your latest product innovation, get in touch with us or visit our website to find out more.
Dry recycled coffee grounds – a sustainable raw material for product development
Behind every cup of coffee, there are wet grounds unnecessarily discarded and which, if left to biodegrade will emit methane, a greenhouse gas 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This despite the fact that the wasted coffee grounds contain residual value that can be exploited to benefit both people and planet. But there is another option.
Fortunately, there is a way to make use of this wasted resource and reduce these greenhouse gas emissions. By diverting the grounds away from landfill sites and renewing them into raw material for sustainable commercial and industrial applications, spent coffee grounds can enjoy a second life.
The rising consumer demand for sustainable products, accelerated by the climate crisis, is fuelling product innovation. And at bio-bean, we’re pleased to see the flow of new products coming to market that use spent coffee grounds as a core ingredient.
From furniture and fabrics to mushroom growing and 3D printing, spent coffee grounds are proving to be a versatile material for a range of industries.
The challenge for product innovators in using spent coffee grounds is the lack of access to a consistent and secure supply of contaminant-free, dried grounds. This can inhibit many innovative start-ups from scaling up and evolving as businesses.
We’ve spent years diligently developing a unique supply chain, securing collections from businesses across the UK for a steady, high-volume stream of spent coffee grounds.
The difficulty with recycling spent grounds at scale is in removing both the contaminants and moisture. But we’ve developed proprietary methodologies which allow us to process large volumes of coffee waste for reuse. And we are now the world’s largest recycler of spent coffee grounds!
When spent grounds arrive at our Cambridgeshire factory, we put them through a decontamination process before drying them to pre-set moisture levels. Our unique process allows us to provide a consistent, bulk raw material to businesses seeking to create transformative change through innovation. With the ability to process to bespoke specifications we can further refine the product to meet specific demands of a particular customer. And our technology guarantees a uniform product, meaning a consistent particle size and bulk density.
There are several benefits to using recycled coffee grounds in product development. Clean and dry recycled grounds are a sustainable material that can help products appeal to eco-conscious consumers, contributing directly to business growth. And using recycled coffee grounds can contribute to savings on greenhouse gas emissions compared to using conventional materials which are often petro-chemical based.
Are you a business or product innovator interested in using spent coffee grounds as your next sustainable building material? Get in touch to find out more.