The use of palm oil is a serious problem. It's found in around 50% of the packaged products in our supermarkets, yet is "a major driver of deforestation [...] destroying the habitat of already endangered species like the Orangutan, pygmy elephant and Sumatran rhino," per the WWF.
Now, a couple of Scottish entrepreneurs reckon they've solved the problem with manky old coffee grounds.
Scott Kennedy and Fergus Moore worked in cafés while they were studying business at Strathclyde uni in Glasgow, and noticed how much heavy, gross coffee waste was produced.
As Moore puts it:
"About 60% of a cafe's waste is coffee grounds.
In Scotland, that amounts to about 40,000 tonnes a year - across the UK, more than half a million tonnes.
And coffee grounds are so heavy that it takes their waste bill through the roof."
While anyone who needs coffee to function would argue that this waste is entirely warranted, we can all agree that it'd be nice if it could go to better use.
Kennedy and Moore have figured out a way to extract oils from the grounds, which can be used for lots of the same purposes as palm oil. Their company, Revive Eco, collects grounds from cafés to extract and purify the oils from, and is a finalist for a share of £775,000 funding as a result:
"Every year, over 500,000 tonnes of coffee grounds are generated in the UK, of which 90% are landfilled or incinerated, costing the UK coffee industry $100m. The biochemicals held within the coffee grounds have a range of uses and contain key components that make up palm oil, meaning the volume of nutrient-rich material being disposed is a catastrophic waste of resources. Palm oil production accounts for roughly 10% of global CO2 emissions annually.
Revive offers a waste collection service to divert these coffee grounds and extract maximum value. From the residual material, we create a natural soil conditioner, putting valuable nutrients back into the earth via an entirely zero waste process, and providing a range of industries (such as hospitality, cosmetics and fashion) with sustainable and locally-sourced alternatives to palm oil."
The company has already received more than £200,000 of funding from Zero Waste Scotland.
Revive Eco is representing Scotland against 19 other companies in the Chivas Venture competition, the winners of which will be announced next month. You can vote for them here.
Images: Revive Eco