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With the global consumption of coffee on the rise, what will become of all that organic waste?

Demand for the beverage is expected to increase by nearly 25% over the next five years, according to the International Coffee Organization (ICO).
“Consumption is increasing as societies in India, China and Latin America continue to be Westernized,” the ICO’s executive director Roberio Silva told the Wall Street Journal.
Currently, consumer intake of coffee stands at 141.6 million bags of beans; but by 2020, coffee demand is slated to rise to 175.8 million bags (each bag weighs in at about 132 lb.).

It makes sense that environmentally conscious entrepreneurs are looking for creative solutions to resolve this problem.

Bio-bean® is the first company in the world to industrialize the process of recycling waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels and biochemicals.

Not only can coffee be used to power homes, but bio-bean anticipates that soon it will also be used to fuel cars. The company is currently exploring refining the oils within the coffee grounds to create biodiesel.

According to research from Bath University’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies “Around 8 million tonnes of coffee are produced globally each year and ground waste coffee contains up to 20 per cent oil per unit weight,” explained Dr Chris Chuck, Whorrod Research Fellow from the university’s Department of Chemical Engineering.
“This oil also has similar properties to current feedstocks used to make biofuels. But, while those are cultivated specifically to produce fuel, spent coffee grounds are waste. Using these, there’s a real potential to produce a truly sustainable second-generation biofuel.” One ton of waste coffee grounds creates 245 liters of liquid fuel.

In partnership with First Mile collection services, bio-bean has teamed-up with the UK based coffee house chain Caffe Nero to pick up their waste coffee grounds. Bio-bean is currently capable of processing 50,000 tonnes of coffee waste, collected from coffee shops, offices, transport hubs, shopping centers and instant coffee factories, turning it into biofuel. In the next few years, bio-bean’s founder Arthur Kay is hoping to raise their processing capacity to 250,000.

Through the transformation of essentially garbage into something valuable, these businesses are not only benefiting the earth, but attracting investors as well.