How to recycle your waste coffee grounds at work - bio-bean
waste coffee grounds recycling


13th February 2020

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.

Our love of coffee in the UK leads to an estimated 500,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds each year that typically end up in landfill sites. That’s the equivalent weight* of 6,250 passenger aeroplanes, including fuel, passengers and cargo.

Our ubiquitous lattes and cappuccinos, while they keep us caffeinated and connected, also create a considerable hidden waste stream. And when left to biodegrade the coffee grounds emit harmful greenhouse gases including methane, a major culprit of rising global temperatures.

But we’ve pioneered an innovative, scaled recycling solution to create valuable products from this material long considered as waste.

The benefits of recycling waste coffee grounds

By diverting grounds from waste and recycling them we save 80% on CO2e emissions compared to letting them go to landfill. Which means that through our unique coffee recycling service, businesses have an opportunity to raise their sustainability credentials and achieve zero waste targets.

Opting to recycle grounds rather than discard them offers businesses the additional benefit of reducing waste disposal fees. Wet and therefore heavy waste coffee grounds can contribute to a hefty landfill tax set at £94.15 per tonne (as of April 2020). These fees have been steadily increasing year on year; a trend likely to continue, particularly as more policies come into force to limit the detrimental effects of climate change. 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 and instant coffee factories.

Some businesses with a large network use a backhaul model, while smaller organisations and independent coffee shops can receive appropriately sized wheelie bins or caddies and have their waste grounds collected at the same time as their general waste.

The type of collection depends on how much waste an 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.

Segregated spent grounds are collected and delivered to our factory in Cambridgeshire, where we decontaminate and dry the grounds, renewing them for use in sustainable products to benefit both people and the planet.

Where is the service available?

We currently recycle waste coffee grounds collected from London, Birmingham, Manchester & Brighton. 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. Or message us directly if you have any questions or would like to discuss possible collections.


(*) Smithsonian