At this point is probably more expedient to list all the things you can’t make out of coffee or its byproducts. We’ve covered many of these discoveries over the years but we never cease to be amazed at just the versatility and breadth of product that have been created using coffee grounds. And today we learned of one company that is turning spent grounds into a substitute for palm oil, and the potential impact is huge.
Palm oil may be not as splashy sounding a discovery as say, a car made out of coffee, but it’s pretty much everywhere in modern life. Food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, as well as a host of industrial uses, palm oil is said to be in half the “products stocked on supermarket shelves.” According to iNews, Scott Kennedy and Fergus Moore, cofounders of Scotland-based Revive Eco, first came up with the idea of turning coffee grounds into palm oil derivatives while working in cafes in Glasgow. After receiving funding from Zero Waste Scotland, Kennedy and Moore have spent the past year and a half creating a method that they can scale. In a few weeks, they will demo a unit that can “convert 10kgs of coffee grounds an hour into oil.”
The ecological benefits of a coffee grounds-based alternative to palm oil are multifaceted. Per iNews, “nearly half a million tonnes of grounds are created every year in the UK,” with most of that findings its way to landfills. Finding yet another use of this byproduct is significant itself, but the ecological impact is doubled when coffee grounds are able to replace something like palm oil; because of its number of uses, palm oil is in high demand, and many environmentalists are concerned its harvesting will “devastate rainforests in Asia.” Per Zero Waste Scotland’s Iain Gulland:
By taking used coffee grounds, they are alleviating the need to harvest plantations for palm oil. Forests play a vital part in fighting climate change by absorbing CO2. Switching to products made with Revive’s sustainable oils would reduce our carbon footprint and divert waste from landfill.
With their functioning unit, Revive Eco will be able to create samples to send to any companies interested in switching away from palm oil, and Kennedy and Moore state they already have received interest from a number of cosmetic companies. The company is also researching ways they can use their “process can be used in other waste streams” and are looking at breweries and distilleries—because Scotland.
The company is still operating on a smaller scale, but with a hopeful successful test run, they are quickly looking to expand internationally. Pretty soon coffee could be used to save rainforests and decrease the size of landfills. That's quite a double whammy.
Top image via Revive Eco