There’s a downside, though. Each year worldwide, 6 million tons of coffee grounds are dumped into landfills where they ferment and emit methane, a greenhouse gas that is “25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.” Coffee is thus a major cause of climate change.
Fortunately, scientists have been hard at work finding ways to recycle and reuse SPGs (spent coffee grounds), and many of those efforts have very recently reached fruition. Here are the three most recent and most important studies:
- Coffee grounds can reduce construction carbon footprint. A 2021 study conducted at School of Engineering at the RMIT University at Melbourne found that “the carbon footprints and environmental impacts related to construction projects are very concerning [but] SCGs have potential use as aggregates in construction materials across a broad range of civil engineering applications.”
- Coffee grounds can create ultrapure water. A 2022 study from Tianjin Chengjian University showed that SPGs is extremely effective at removing pollutants from waste water. “[For] ultrapure water production, results showed that catalyst and oxidant wielded a great influence.”
- Coffee grounds can be a highly efficient biofuel. According to 2022 study at Erciyes University in Turkey, “integration with biorefinery in general and with pyrolysis process in specific is considered the most successful solid waste management strategy of SCG.”
Unfortunately, today’s government recycling programs aren’t set up to reclaim SPGs for recycling. There are, however, some startups, like UK-based BioBean, setting up the infrastructure to collect SPGs and use them as a revenue source.
So, if you’re looking to launch an environmentally-friendly business that’s pioneering a brand new market… perhaps your search might be over?