As I’ve previously stated in numerous columns, coffee is an antioxidant-rich superfood. Coffee consumption lowers the risk of cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and a variety of other health problems. Additionally, coffee concentrates the mind, fosters camaraderie, and stimulates creativity.
However, there is a disadvantage. Each year, 6 million tonnes of coffee grounds are discarded in landfills, where they ferment and release methane, a potent glasshouse gas “25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.” As a result, coffee is a significant contributor to climate change.
Fortunately, scientists have been hard at work developing methods for recycling and reusing SPGs (used coffee grounds), and a number of these efforts have recently come to fruition. The following are the three most recent and significant studies:
Coffee grounds can help reduce the carbon footprint of construction. According to a 2021 study conducted at the RMIT University’s School of Engineering, “the carbon footprints and environmental impacts associated with construction projects are extremely concerning [but] SCGs have the potential to be used as aggregates in a broad range of civil engineering applications.”
Coffee grounds are capable of producing ultrapure water. According to a study published in 2022 by Tianjin Chengjian University, SPGs are extremely effective at removing pollutants from waste water.” The results indicated that the catalyst and oxidant had a significant effect on the production of ultrapure water.”
Coffee grounds have the potential to be an extremely efficient biofuel. According to a 2022 study conducted at Erciyes University in Turkey, “integration with biorefineries in general and pyrolysis in particular is considered the most successful solid waste management strategy of SCG.”
Regrettably, today’s government recycling programmes are not designed to collect and recycle SPGs. However, some startups, such as the UK-based BioBean, are establishing the infrastructure necessary to collect and monetize SPGs.