“Approximately 95 million cups of coffee are consumed per day in the UK alone, producing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste coffee grounds annually.”
Coffee recycling company bio-bean has secured £4 million in equity funding with the help of investment bank ClearlySo. According to bio-bean, the funding round will be able to help the company to launch new product lines and expand internationally.
Bio-bean was started in 2013 by founders Arthur Kay and Benjamin Harriman. It recycles used coffee grounds into fuel sources including biomass briquettes and pellets for use in wood burners. It also turns this waste into biochemicals. Its first product, the Coffee Log, was launched in 2016, with each log made from the grounds of about 25 cups of coffee.
Speaking about the £4m equity funding, Chris Harrison, CEO of bio-bean (@bio_bean_UK), said: “This investment is a hugely exciting development for bio-bean. It will enable us to push for even greater innovation in extracting commercial value from used coffee grounds otherwise considered a waste, helping to further strengthen bio-bean’s position at the forefront of the circular economy and increase the use of sustainable, second-generation resources.”
In a statement, bio-bean said that it offers a coffee waste recycling service to clients who produce spent coffee grounds in large quantities such as cafes, office buildings and transport hubs, the company collects and transports the coffee waste to its factory where it is then transformed into a range of valuable bio-based products using a patent-pending process to extract the latent resource.
Jon Wright, investment manager at ClearlySo (@ClearlySo), said: “Bio-bean is one of the best examples of a circular economy business that I have come across. Thinking about how we use waste and our limited resources is especially important as we drive towards a more sustainable future, and the massive opportunity presented by the circular economy is proving a popular theme with investors.”
‘Ripe for disruption’
Speaking about bio-bean in 2016, founder Arthur Kay said: “There is a massive market out there that is currently ripe for disruption. Currently, the traditional fuels that are used in fireplaces like coal are dirty and mainly imported. We have this sustainable, locally-manufactured product to sue, which is much better than using coal and wood.”
Approximately 95 million cups of coffee are consumed per day in the UK alone, producing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste coffee grounds annually. Currently, the majority of this waste goes to 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 not the only company in the UK that had the idea to recycle coffee and use it as a resource. Scottish startup Revive Eco is also recycling waste. Revive Eco is aiming to go global with their hope of to replace palm oil using coffee waste.
Scott Kennedy and Fergus Moore are honing a chemical technique that extracts oils from used coffee grounds. According to the BBC, the two men first got the idea to use coffee waste oil when they were working in cafes during their time in college.
According to Kennedy and Moore, the bulk of café waste was made up of used coffee grounds and rather than letting this resource go to waste, they developed a method of using the coffee ground oil as a substitute for palm oil.
“There are oils in coffee with a wide range of uses in different industries – cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food and drink, household products – you name it, there’s probably a use there,” Moore told the BBC. “The most exciting part for us it that they have all the same components as palm.”
Since palm oil has been linked to deforestation, dangerous sources of GHGs, the prosecution of native people, and the destruction of wildlife habitats, food and cosmetic industries have been coming under increasing pressure to ditch palm oil from their ingredients lists.
Moore and Kennedy have already started recycling waste coffee into palm oil in Scotland and have plans to start expanding into other European cities, according to the BBC.