What to do with those spent coffee grounds?
What does 3D printing, fabric production, mushroom growing, and some furniture items all have in common? Give up? Well the answer is coffee. Yes coffee, well more precisely used coffee grounds.
It is well known that here in the United Kingdom we drink a lot of coffee and the wet grounds that usually get discarded in the bin or elsewhere could be better used. If they were left to biodegrade the coffee grounds would emit methane, a greenhouse gas that is 34 times more potent and dangerous to our atmosphere than carbon dioxide. But, what if the grounds could be put to a better, more sustainable use?
There are several companies in the United Kingdom now who will take large quantities of used grounds and make them into a variety of raw materials for almost every conceivable product. But, as with all innovations there are problems. The most common one is a lack of access to a consistent and secure supply of contaminant free, dried grounds. The second is in the processing of the grounds to ensure they are free of any foreign objects and that the moisture has been completely removed. This is where companies such as Britain’s Bio-Bean come in. They have successfully mastered the process and have become the world’s largest re-processor of spent coffee grounds at their Cambridgeshire facility.
So, what does it take to make spent coffee grounds into another useful product? Firstly, a heavy-duty decontamination process is used before an equally arduous drying phase. Bio Bean then can deliver a consistent product that can be manufactured into the afore mentioned furniture, mushroom growing, 3D printing materials and clothes and houseware fabrics.
Using spent coffee grounds is a sustainable and practical solution to the problem of yet more wastage ending up in landfill sites. But it goes further than that, the process of recycling spent coffee grounds significantly reduces Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions.