“We really managed to achieve our innovation [because] we were able to reach scale, “says George May, CEO and chief commercial officer of Bio-beans.” Other people can recycle one or 10 tons of coffee. We have recycled over 20,000 tons in our lifetime. ”
Bio-beans have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis, but its business continues. Although coffee shops in the UK have been temporarily closed due to coronavirus restrictions, Bio-bean says it has still managed to get reasons from various recycling partners, but in smaller quantities than usual.
Coffee as fuel
At the company’s Cambridgeshire plant, used coffee grounds are decontaminated to remove paper cups or plastic bags, then passed through a dryer and further screening. They are finally processed into products such as biomass pellets and domestic firewood.
The company also produces natural aroma extract from coffee bases through a special process.
Pellets can be used to power industrial boilers, heat commercial greenhouses or to dry cereals, while coffee can be used in fireplaces.
“Coffee is high in calories and is considered a really fantastic fuel,” May says. “They burn about 20% warmer and 20% longer than logs.”
Jenny Jones, a professor of sustainable energy at the University of Leeds, says recycled coffee bases can be fuel, but adds that overall carbon savings should be assessed and compared with alternatives to handling ground coffee waste, such as incineration, or converted to plant mulch.
Jones also says that coffee, like most biomass residues, is higher in sulfur and nitrogen than in most wood, which emits harmful gases such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides during combustion.
Although he has delayed the coronavirus pandemic, Bio-beans says he plans to expand his work to northwestern Europe over the next five years.