For sustainable society


Coffee-based solid fuel

Regarding the coffee loved in the world, do you know how much is consumed in a day? It is said to be about 2 billion cups. From this fact, it can be easily imagined that a considerable amount of coffee grounds has been generated as waste.

Do you know there is a company in the UK that makes solid fuels from coffee grounds, which are being discarded in huge amounts every day around the world? That is bio-bean, a startup company that has been drawing attention as “turning waste into a resource.” The company recycles 7,000 tonnes of coffee grounds annually. By the way, about 70 times that amount, 500,000 tonnes, is discarded in one year in the UK.

It is working with a variety of companies and organizations to collect coffee grounds from cafes and restaurants, airports, train stations, universities, and everywhere in the city. Understandably, since they are not processed for easy recycling, their papers and plastic bags are removed at the company’s factory in Cambridgeshire. Then, after the process of drying and sorting, they are mixed with sawdust and processed into log-shaped solid fuel that can be used in household wood stoves and into fine pellets that are used in commercial greenhouses and in boilers for grain drying. Household fuels are sold at home centers and Amazon at around 900 yen/8kg.

According to the company, coffee grounds are decomposed when they are put into a landfill, producing methane gas. It is believed that the greenhouse effect of methane gas is 25 times that of CO2, and it is known that the reduction effect has immediate effect as a measure against climate change. The company says that recycling them as fuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to disposing into landfills.

However, a media organization pointed out that a university professor who specializes in sustainable energy needs to make a comparative review of it with alternatives such as “mulch*1,” which is a method of covering the soil around plants with straws and composts in plant cultivation. It is because coffee grounds emit more sulfur and nitrogen than woods when burned. As sustainable efforts spread, it is difficult for general people to evaluate how corporate activities actually affect the global environment, and it is necessary to make a judgment based on experts’ opinion. 

In any case, the spread of coronavirus infection on a global scale should have been increasing coffee consumption and waste at home. On the company’s website, how to recycle coffee grounds at home is introduced. Why don’t those who have thrown them away refer to it?


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