Author: Nell MacDonald
For many of us, coffee is an essential part of our morning routine with Australians consuming 6 billion cups of coffee annually. Over the past year we have collectively taken excellent steps to reduce our impact of this daily habit through using reusable cups (we have seen a 400% increase of sales of KeepCups since the ABC’s War on Waste aired last year!), but have you ever thought about what happens to the grounds left over after your coffee is extracted?
Unfortunately, at the moment a large majority of coffee grounds are sent to landfill with almost 2,800 tonnes a year in Sydney alone. Planet Ark is excited to be working with leading coffee roasters to launch Coffee 4 Planet Ark which will collect and repurpose spent coffee grounds nationally.
When organic materials, such as coffee grounds, are sent to landfill they are quickly covered and compacted with the other waste so they break down without the presence of oxygen, or decompose anaerobically. This process creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas with over 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Diverting the coffee grounds in Sydney alone we estimate would save 1,600 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions annually!
Coffee is a valuable resource, rich in important nutrients which go to waste when they are sent to landfill. Planet Ark’s aim is to not only divert spent coffee grounds from landfill, but to repurpose them into innovative and higher value end uses. As part of the program we will be establishing a research and development fund to come up with long term solutions for the large volume of coffee waste produced in Australia.
We have begun working with the SMaRT Centre at the University of New South Wales to find and develop new end uses and to trial them in potential manufacturing processes. In addition to this, we have secured a relationship with our Circular Economy partner, Circular Food, to produce a nutrient rich soil fertiliser called Big Bio which will utilise the collected coffee grounds.
In September Planet Ark has teamed up with five Founding Members, Allpress Espresso, Genovese Coffee, Grinders Coffee, Lavazza and TATA Global Beverages, to conduct a 2 month trial for the Coffee 4 Planet Ark program within Sydney. This trial has been made possible thanks to the support of our Founding Members and, with their generous support, we hope to develop the best, most cost effective collection method in order to begin to roll out a national program in 2019.
Next time you are at your favourite local, why not ask what they do with their grounds and let them know Coffee 4 Planet Ark will be rolling out soon! Visit Planetark.org/coffee for more information.
This trial will be available for customers of our Founding Members located within certain areas throughout Sydney. If you are a customer of Allpress, Genovese, Grinders, Lavazza or TATA Global Beverages and would like to be involved please get in contact for more information. We will be rolling out the full Coffee 4 Planet Ark program in Sydney in November so if your roaster is not listed above, we encourage you to contact them to let them know you would are interested in being a part of it.
Nell is Special Projects Manager at Planet Ark.