Coffee 4 Planet Ark releases results from coffee grounds recycling trial
Author: Nell MacDonald
Australians consume over 6.2 billion cups of coffee every year*, with the majority of the coffee grounds ending up in the garbage, destined for landfill. Once we’ve brewed all the goodness out of our espresso coffee, the waste that is leftover is referred to as Spent Coffee Grounds (SCG).
While these dirt-like dregs may seem useless, they actually contain valuable chemical compounds and can be converted into new materials with useful properties. Planet Ark has trialled a collection and repurposing program for coffee grounds in Sydney and Melbourne to see if it’s possible to capture these valuable resources on a nationwide scale. We are excited to share our report containing the results of the trial.
Thanks to the support of Tata Global Beverages, Grinders Coffee, Lavazza, Allpress Espresso and Genovese Coffee we were able to divert over 14,000 kg of spent coffee grounds from landfill, saving over 8,500 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) emissions from entering the atmosphere. This is equivalent to repurposing the grounds from over 550,000 regular coffees. The trial results have allowed us to understand what a future program will look like.
Our next stage of the program will focus on Research and Development in order to develop a higher value end use. We will be continuing to work with the imaginative and inventive team at UNSW’s SMaRT Centre, to develop world-first end uses for coffee grounds. This team, who have already created a tile made from coffee grounds, will focus their future work on using coffee grounds in low carbon steel manufacturing and battery manufacturing.
A key finding from our trial is that the ability to aggregate coffee grounds allows for a significant reduction in collection costs and also a reduction in the carbon footprint of these collections, improving the environmental outputs. This method is something that one of the program’s Founding Members, Tata Global Beverages, has continued and refined since the end of the trial.
Planet Ark would like to congratulate Tata Global Beverages via their Map Coffee brand for the continued development of their coffee collection service. Planet Ark is proud to see the continuation of the Coffee 4 Planet Ark program through this service, which is leading the way in creating a viable solution for customers. In 2019 alone Tata Global Beverages via their Map Coffee brand has tripled the amount of coffee grounds they collect weekly. In total they have diverted almost 4,500 kg of coffee from landfill, saving over 2,500 kg of CO2-e emissions from entering the atmosphere!
Planet Ark is now calling on industry stakeholders to support the next stage of the Coffee 4 Planet Ark program. You can find details about this stage on page 27 of the trial report. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Nell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to our Founding Members for leading the industry in this important initiative.
*Based on 2014 research on SCGs in the Sydney City council area by Planet Ark with support from The City of Sydney.