Have you ever had the thought run through your mind while drinking your daily cup (or multiple cups) of coffee, “I wonder what they do with the coffee grinds they made my coffee with?”. Yah, us neither. Just kidding. We do all the time.
According to sustainability researcher, Gunter Pauli, global coffee production creates in excess of 23 million tons of waste per year, which includes the coffee beans to the packaging that held the beans from your cup of coffee this morning. That’s a significant amount of waste and the majority of it, unfortunately, goes right into the trash bin after its job is complete.
As a younger generation emerges and begins to dominate the economy, politics and everything in between, the environmental impact of our coffee “addiction” is becoming a topic of conversation and concern, BUT that’s where the concept of a Circular Economy comes into play. A circular economy can be defined as “an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources”. If we have the ability to extract oil thousands of feet below the Earth’s surface, surely, we can develop a way to reuse and repurpose the byproducts from making coffee. A couple of the solutions include converting the grounds into biofuel, putting the grounds back into the Earth and using it as a fertilizer and manufacture biomass pellets.
This post isn’t meant to tell you to change your daily coffee habit, but instead to help you be an educated consumer of your daily habit. So next time you either brew your own pot at home or stop at your local shop, stop and think about (or better yet, ask, if you’re at a coffee shop!) what is happening with the coffee byproduct.