Spent coffee grounds are not a waste. Following the brewing process, coffee grounds still have considerable residual value. One aspect of that value lies in the oils. In fact, spent grounds contain up to 20% oil content!
These oils have a wide variety of potential uses as a sustainable material, from cosmetics to a substitute for palm oil, or even as a precursor in the production of a sustainable bioplastic. This latter application is our current focus for oils from spent coffee grounds, as part of our work within the WaysTUP! pilot project. And this week our Product Development & Technology team has been in France taking a step forward in the scale-up of this work.
Scaling up the process
With lab-scale tests in our own facility successful and complete, we took a major step in the pilot project this week when we began using a specialised extraction facility to maximise the volume of oil we can obtain. The facility features a clean, environmentally sustainable extraction method and allows us to model the economics of scaled coffee oil extraction.
How will the project work?
We start by collecting spent coffee grounds from businesses across the UK. Once we’ve processed the grounds and have extracted the residual oils, we’ll ship the product to Nafigate, our partner in the WaysTUP! project, who will prepare the oil for incorporation into a biodegradable food wrapping.
Seeking viable new products from a material that was previously thought of as a waste is a long and challenging process. As a member of the WaysTUP! Consortium, though, we have the resource to explore the coffee oil opportunity, as well as access to partners who have the capability and potential customers for a final product.
Stay tuned for a further update in 2022 on how the oil-to-bioplastic production is progressing…