16th January 2023
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.