Bio–bean – powered by coffee
WHERE: London, UK
WHEN: 2013- present
WASTE MANAGEMENT HIERARCHY: Multiple – separate collection, recycling
TYPE OF INSTRUMENT: Voluntary / promotional
WASTE STREAMS: Municipal waste, Food and organic waste, waste coffee grounds -WCG
About: Founded in 2013 by Arthur Kay, bio-bean is the first company in the world to industrialise the process of recycling waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels and biochemicals.
Photo by Mike Kenneally on Unsplash
The company’s main objective is to get cities powered by coffee, by replacing conventional fuels and chemicals with sustainable, cost-effective alternative advanced biofuels.
The startup collects used coffee grounds from cafes, restaurants and factories, and transports them to its recycling facility. There, the grounds are dried before coffee oil is extracted.
The coffee oil is then blended with other fuels to create B20 biofuel, which can be used in diesel buses without modification.
„Spent coffee grounds are highly calorific and contain valuable compounds, making them an ideal feedstock from which to produce clean fuels”, the company says on its website.
bio-bean was founded by Arthur Kay who first developed the idea whilst he was studying an architecture degree at University College London. Since starting up the company in 2013 the entrepreneur has already earned some esteemed awards and has quickly built up a team of 25 staff. They are dedicated to looking at new ways that WCG can be turned into a renewable products to reduce CO2 emissions and our reliance on fossil fuels.
- Bio-bean has partnered with Shell and Argent Energy to create a coffee-based biofuel that will be used in London’s diesel buses.
The company has produced 6,000 liters of coffee oil for one pilot project with London’s transportation authority — enough to help power the equivalent of one city bus for a year.
- Bio –bean recycles waste coffee grounds into biomass pellets and briquettes and is researching biodiesel and biochemical production
- The team are in the process of developing a number of bio-based products made from the recycled WCG. Their latest product, launched to the mass market, is Coffee LogsTM – a product designed to offer a sustainable alternative to conventional solid fuels, fossil fuels and imported woody biomass for use in open fires, chimineas and compatible solid fuel stoves.
Example – How it works. Costa Coffee began sending their waste coffee grounds to bio-bean in June 2016, and bio-bean now collects 3000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds a year from over 800 Costa sites across the country. Prior to this, Costa used to send its waste coffee grounds to anaerobic digesters. However, sending waste coffee grounds to bio-bean produces 30% less emissions than anaerobic digestion, and by working with bio-bean Costa has helped prevent 360 tonnes of CO2e from entering the atmosphere, every year. This is the equivalent of planting a forest the size of 95 football pitches.
The UK produces 500,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds every year, most of which is disposed of via landfill where it emits methane, a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. As well as damaging the environment, landfill is a costly method of waste disposal for businesses because of the UK government’s landfill tax.
Bio-bean is founded on the premise that there is no such thing as waste, just resources in the wrong place. Spent coffee grounds are highly calorific and contain valuable compounds, making them an ideal feedstock from which to produce clean fuels.
At the world’s first coffee recycling factory in Cambridgeshire, bio-bean’s engineers turns these coffee grounds into amazing Coffee Logs – which are used in fireplaces and stoves as an sustainable alternative to wooden logs and other conventional fossil fuels.
Each year bio-bean processes thousands of tonnes of waste coffee grounds, collected from coffee shops around the UK. Recycling coffee helps reduce greenhouse gases, diverts waste away from costly landfill, helps reducing the wood and other fossil fuels and gives coffee a useful second life.
Each carbon neutral Coffee Log is made from the grounds of 25 cups of coffee and burns 20% hotter and longer than kiln-dried wood. And recycling coffee waste generates 80% less emissions than landfill – so if you are looking to heat your home and not the planet, Coffee Logs are the perfect choice.
A staggering 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed every year worldwide. Each espresso shot uses 42 beans and with most shop bought coffee having a double shot thats equates to 84 beans per shop bought coffee. But these big numbers, lead to the production of huge amounts of waste – 200,000 tonnes a year in London alone.
Bio-bean estimates that Britain produces 500,000 tonnes of coffee grounds a year, most of which are discarded in landfills where they can emit harmful greenhouse gases.
The company also sells “coffee logs,” which are used in fireplaces and stoves as an alternative to wooden logs.
Coffee pellets are created by compressing clean, dry coffee grounds mixed with a little binding agent.They can then be used in biomass boilers as an alternative to woodchip pellets.
Photo Source: ©bio-bean limited
bio-bean works in collaboration with coffee shops, offices, instant coffee factories, coffee roasteries and waste management companies from across the UK to recycle WCG and transform them into innovative advanced biofuels.
bio-bean’s pioneering WCG recycling factory in Cambridgeshire is the first in the world and can process up to 50,000 tonnes of WCG a year – the waste from 1 in 10 cups of coffee drunk in the UK.
Engaged participatory processes
Bio-bean works within the existing energy and waste infrastructure to collect spent coffee grounds from coffee shops, offices, transport hubs and coffee factories, recycling them into sustainable and high-performance products and displacing conventional fuels and chemicals.
This way, they minimise waste mileage and use the expertise of existing waste management infrastructure to organise the logistics of our collection routes
bio-bean collects waste coffee grounds at every scale, from independent cafés to major coffee chains and from universities to property groups and instant coffee factories.
The waste management partners undertake all coffee waste collections on our behalf, and provide everything required for businesses to begin collection such as caddies, bins, refuse sacks, vehicles and the collection service.
Some of the organizations enrolled in the collection program are: University of Birmingham, Network Rail, Petersham Nurseries, coffee shops, catering organizations, other organizations etc.
The project can be easily replied in other regions across Europe, as long as is supported by the relevant actors from the waste management industry (eg. collection companies, public authorities etc).
Further research and development is being conducted to produce bio-based liquid fuels and biochemicals for the future.
Bio-bean said there is „no formal agreement” to continue using its coffee oil in London, but it hopes to quickly find new markets and applications.
Although the company is still relatively new it has already secured backing from a lot of private investors and won the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge in 2014 which funded research and development as well as their factory.
bio-bean has been supported by chef and food waste campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who stated the company has „a sustainable approach to a major food waste issue” with further support from infamous designer Kevin McCloud: „My Green Hero! Power your home with coffee fuel from bio-bean”.
- finding resources for business, getting necessary permits and standards which cost a lot,
- finding the right partners/customers to extend the project.