Our first UK Coffee Week Talkshop of 2017 went down as a great success. The theme of the night was sustainability in the coffee industry, a critical subject at the centre of present and future environmental debates. Over 40 industry members attended the talk, hosted by Taylor St Baristas in their Bank branch, with insightful presentations given by team members of bio-bean and Simply Cups.
Hugh Grosvenor, Accounts manager at bio-bean
Kicking off the evening was Hugh Grosvenor, representing the clean energy company, bio-bean. Hugh’s discussion centred around the massive potential in coffee ground waste of becoming a bio-fuel of the future.
Bio-bean work within already existing waste collection networks, cutting down CO2 emissions from collection and rendering the process carbon neutral. Having previously focused on coffee waste collection in areas of the city of London and with partnerships such as Network Rail, bio-bean is venturing out into the independent coffee communities of London, Birmingham and Brighton, with a view to cover more of the UK as time goes on.
Bio-bean do not currently collect home coffee waste, but are conducting research into the viability of this as a further source of reusable material.
2) Waste Processing
As bio-bean work within the framework of existing waste collectors, their partner service drop all coffee waste at their reprocessing site in Cambridge. This site has the capacity to process 50,000 tonnes of coffee ground waste per year, which equates to 10% of the annual coffee waste of the UK.
Bio-bean currently process coffee ground waste into two different formats:
- Coffee Pellets: These pellets are usable in all sustainable bio-fuel burners and are an eco-friendly way of heating homes or office buildings.
- Coffee Logs/Briquettes: Similarly, bio-bean’s coffee logs are usable in bio-furnaces and in wood burning stoves for homes.
Both pellets and logs are now available to buy in garden centres, Shell station forecourts and online at Amazon and Ocado.
3) Some Questions
What are the emissions of the coffee pellets like comparative to wood?
Although emissions from coffee pellets and logs were on a similar level to wood, the logs are 30% more calorfic than wood so therefore produce more heat energy (unfortunately without that coffee fragrance!). By reducing the need for wood and harnessing a more energy efficient fuel through recycling, bio-bean renders the process carbon neutral.
Is there a cost associated with collection within the frameworks?
bio-bean work within existing waste collection networks to reduce the carbon footprint, and already work with partners such as Biffa and Paper Round, with upcoming partnerships with Violia. Although they work within the frameworks of these companies, there is an extra cost regarding the separation materials provided and specific coffee waste pick-up.
For more information about bio-bean, please contact Hugh (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Peter Goodwin, Director at Simply Cups
Our second presentation of the evening was an engaging and informative discussion from Peter Goodwin, director of the recycling company dedicated solely to the collection and reuse of coffee cups known as Simply Cups. Peter’s talk centred around a longer-term solution to the “coffee cup revolution” made famous by Hugh Fernley Whittingstall.
1) The Problem
Coffee cups, as many people may not be aware, are not as recyclable as one might think. The polyprothene plastic lining embedded onto the cardboard paper make it extremely difficult for normal waste facilities to separate, and as such often end up in regular landfill.
2) The collection and Re-use
Simply Cups works within existing waste collection networks to collect all separated coffee cup waste. Simply Cups partner with various other manufacturers to produce items derived from used paper and plastic cups.
The paper fibre and polyethylene lining can be separated and recovered by specialist fibre recovery facilities in the UK. The cups are separated and subsequently feed loosely up a conveyor belt to be dropped into a pulper.
Products that can come from the recycled cups and plastic lining include place mats, table talkers, signage, coasters and more. All products can be found on their online shop.
How can we, as independent owners, get people who come in for takeaway coffee to dispose of their cups using Simply Cups facilities when we don’t have contact with them again?
Peter drew attention to the recent attempt in Manchester to recycle coffee cups in specific bins: the result was a great amount of cross-contamination and items that had to be resorted into general waste. Peter’s intention is to start the conversation that coffee shops can have with their customers in store to promote the idea of coffee cup collection and recycling, so that logistics can be implemented more solidly in the future.
What can we do in the meantime to start helping this cause?
In April 2017, Simply Cups will launch the Square Mile Challenge, with the aim of recovering half a million cups within the Square Mile and recycling them into new products, creating a closed-loop solution for the high profile issue of disposable coffee cups.
With the backing of the City of London Corporation Simply Cups are seeking the participation of at least 30 businesses to install coffee cup recycling bins in their offices and divert paper coffee cups into a new waste stream.