Coffee is undoubtedly one of the leading beverages in the country, with a staggering 450 million cups consumed every day. However, have you ever stopped to wonder what happens to the coffee grounds? Interestingly, 6 million tons of coffee grounds are disposed of and end up in landfills each year. But, more and more coffee shops are stepping up to the challenge to do better and here are five things they are now doing with old coffee grounds.
1. Donation of coffee grounds to treat wastewater
Coffee grounds are an excellent natural bio-sorbent. They are being used in various industries as an adsorbent but one sector in particular – water treatment, has welcomed the use of this natural product. Studies are now being carried out worldwide to establish coffee grounds as a solution for the treatment of fertilizer industrial wastewater. When activated, these coffee grounds absorb nitrate, nitrites, and ammonia in this wastewater. Decreasing the amount of nitric compounds in water will help to stop eutrophication of rivers and other water systems.
2. Coffee grounds used in natural body scrubs
It’s a well-known fact that coffee grounds make good exfoliates. For this reason, many beauty companies are interested in harvesting coffee grounds so they can incorporate them into their products. You’ll find coffee grounds being used in scrubs and other body products such as anti-cellulite creams and even hair conditioners! SheaMoisture, First Botany Cosmeceuticals and PremiumNature are just some of the companies that have gotten onboard and sell body scrubs rich in coffee grounds.
3. Sold to companies that produce biogas commercially
Thanks to their composition (65% moisture content and 99% of their dry matter is carbon organic waste); coffee grounds make the perfect raw material for biogas production. Scientists have already started extensive studies on the production of sugars which will be fermented to produce bioethanol or subsequently pyrolysis. Coffee grounds are an eco-friendly fuel that is being adopted widely in industrial settings.
4. Support of community gardening initiatives
Starbucks is one of the biggest coffee houses in the world, and as such have a bigger responsibility to ensure that their coffee grounds are disposed of properly. One of the initiatives they have launched to this end is the “Grounds For Your Garden”. To be fair, this project has been running since 1995. Customers are permitted to go and collect coffee grounds from their local Starbucks for free. Even the way in which Starbucks packages the grounds – in paper bags that espresso beans came in – is pretty noteworthy.
5. Coffee grounds being sent to farms for mushroom cultivation
Local mushroom farmers have also taken to substituting some of their substrates with coffee grounds. Oyster mushrooms are among some of the vegetables that grow really well when fertilized by coffee grounds. That’s not all that coffee grounds are used for on these farms. Thanks to their high nitrogen content, spent coffee grounds improve the soil or compost when added to it. Research on the use of spent coffee grounds as an animal feed is still being carried out.
Noteworthy campaigns to do with coffee grounds
There are organizations like LokaBee that have taken it upon themselves to sensitive the public about holding coffee houses accountable for the waste produced in their production. Another entity is Ground to Ground who collects and offers coffee husks to people for their composting for free. If you’re a restaurant that sells coffee and have been wondering what to do with your old coffee grounds consider reaching out to them and giving them the grounds to distribute within communities.
To read more about green initiatives businesses are doing, check out these 9 Businesses That Have Gone Green