Bio-Bean Wants to Fuel London's Buses With Leftover Coffee Grounds

By Gerald Lynch on at

When you think of coffee shop waste, the first thing that jumps into your mind is probably plastic coffee cups, shortly followed by the ink wasted in spelling your name incorrectly on the side of said cup. But Arthur Kay, boss of London-based Bio-Bean has his eyes on leftover coffee grounds, and aims to use them to fuel London's buses.

Having just secured a £400,000 prize at the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, Kay is looking to expand his eco-friendly business. Bio-Bean stakes a claim as the first industrialised coffee-waste recycling firm. Kay's team (already working on a small scale in the capital) collects used-up coffee grounds from coffee shops and takes them to a local processing plant. Here they are dried, with the grounded beans' oil extracted and the leftover paste turned into biomass pellets. The pellets can be used to keep heaters burning, but it's the oil that's perhaps most useful -- it can be turned into a bio-fuel suitable for use in vehicles.

The average coffee shop chucks out almost 10kg of ground coffee every day, with Bio-Bean already collecting roughly 2 per cent of the estimated 200,000 tonnes Londoners get through each year. If all that were to be processed and recycled into usable fuel, Bio-Bean estimates it could cut the capital's CO2 emissions by the same amount as would be produced were you to drive a bus around the world 7,675 times.

Garnering praise from London Mayor Boris Johnson (though not yet securing a contract to power London's fleet of buses with its product), thanks to the monetary win Bio-Bean hopes to up its coffee collections from 2 per cent of the capital's waste to 40 per cent by this time next year. Bio-Bean also hopes to expand its business to other locations in the UK, and eventually northern Europe and the US. [Standard]

Image credit: Coffee beans and ground coffee from Shutterstock