We’ve been hearing more and more about eco-friendly biodegradable plastics, made from cellulose nanofibers. Although those fibers are typically harvested from wood waste, new research shows that they could also be obtained from mega-plentiful used coffee grounds.
Cellulose is the most abundant organic compound on Earth. Among other places, it’s found in the cell walls of plants – it’s what allows plant leaves and stems to be as strong as they are.
Coffee grounds also aren’t exactly in short supply, with the International Coffee Organization estimating that over 6 million tons (5.4 million tonnes) are produced worldwide annually. Some of them are composted, while others may someday be put to use in substances such as carbon capture materials, biofuels, or road materials. That said, for now at least, most coffee grounds still end up being dumped in landfills.