Clean technology company bio-bean is set to refuel Mayfair. We sat down with its founder to learn more about the company’s alternative, reliable and cost-effective energy supply.

What’s the outcome?

The recycling plant transforms waste coffee grounds into two different products. The first is a biomass pellet, which is used to heat places such as schools, hospitals and housing developments – anywhere with a biomass boiler.

The second product is a ‘Coffee Log’ – a biomass briquette that’s a viable sustainable alternative to wood or fossil fuels.

“There are some very exciting alternative uses that are still at the research stage,” Kay reveals of the company’s next steps. “There’s the potential to recycle coffee into biodiesel, which requires a refining stage,” he explains. “We’re currently working out how best to bring that to market.”

Why coffee?

Coffee powers our society in many respects, but when it comes to energy production, what does it have that other waste products don’t? Kay puts its appeal down to three things. “The first is it’s relatively easy to collect because it’s much less dispersed than other forms of waste,” he says. “The second is it’s extremely calorific. Coffee’s got an extremely high oil content – something like 20% in each kind of waste coffee ground – so that sets it apart because it’s such a high energy biomass. It’s got great potential for biofuel.

“The third is everyone drinks it, so everyone’s quite interested in where it’s going. For the consumer, it’s an attractive product to work with.”

Where do collections take place?

The business works in collaboration with First Mile, a waste-management provider that offers a simple, low-cost recycling service. First Mile collects waste coffee grounds on bio-bean’s behalf and delivers the fuel source to the company.

“We made the call early on not to set up as a waste management company, because we didn’t want to add extra vehicles and their extra emissions on the road,” Kay explains. “The objective for us is to have collection vehicles powered by coffee-dried biodiesel, creating an even more closed-loop solution.”

By the end of July, the recycling service will be offered to all First Mile customers operating in Duke Street and Mount Street in Mayfair. The First Mile package will then be extended to a further five streets in the area.

Who can get involved?

“We’d love to get as many coffee-serving businesses on those streets involved as possible,” says Kay. “Despite the environmental benefits over landfill and the value associated with moving coffee further up the waste hierarchy, we wouldn’t get through the door if we didn’t save people money. First and foremost, this is a sustainable, commercial offering.”

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