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Working in partnership with bio-bean to find an innovative solution to coffee ground waste


With high quality coffee available on the high street, and barista-quality increasingly in people's homes, there is a certain level of expectation for the same in the workplace. Good quality coffee can contribute to a boost in employee morale and according to our catering business, Gather & Gather, coffee ranks in the top five most important aspects of the workspace. 

One of our financial services clients has coffee machines in their office, available to all of their staff, located in the break areas on each office floor. Coffee machines however create waste coffee grounds, one of the few guaranteed uncontaminated waste streams produced from an office environment. Waste coffee grounds are damp and heavy which were originally being disposed of via both the general waste and the food waste streams. Not only does this increase the cost of disposal prices but also wastes the energy potential which the coffee grounds possess.

Disposing of coffee grounds in the food waste recycling bin was a better option however, this process was still missing on harnessing the best potential from the coffee grounds. Coffee grounds sent to composting can take some time before it starts to break down. Due to consistency and energy content, the bio-bean process can harness much more potential from the coffee grounds.

Our financial services client wanted to obtain the best potential possible from the waste stream and completely avoid disposal in general waste thus improving segregation and recycling rates. With this in effect the clients wanted an improvement of the perception of waste management on site which would also assist with the recycling rates and segregation. The client also wanted a cost neutral alternative to their current disposal routes without creating any additional work.


Previously the client had 2 x  240 litre bins on their site. We swapped one of these bins and replaced with 2 x 120 litre coffee. Due to weights of the coffee waste 120 litre bins have to be used to prevent overloading and manual handling issues when swapping bins over.

A supplier was employed to undertake collections as they already collect the food waste so they were aware of the access restrictions to site meaning there would be no need for training or notifying of the restrictions and collection points. The suppliers also do bin exchange rather than emptying so each bin is cleaned in their wash facility and then returned to undertake the exchange again. This process also means that no extra vehicles are used in the collection of the waste exchange.

By removing one of the 240 food bins and adding 2 x 120 coffee bins the cost balanced out making a neutral changeover in price. Not only was there a neutral transfer in price but the coffee bins are colour-coded which assist with the segregation on site. Uncontaminated coffee ground waste is now taken directly from break areas to the loading bay so there is no contamination present on site. The suppliers exchange the coffee bins twice a week and take the waste to their facility. Here the coffee grounds are bulked up before being transported to the UK’s first waste coffee ground recycling facility bio-bean near Cambridge.

The results

  • No coffee ground waste in general waste = volumes of general waste decreased
  • Decreased contamination of mixed recycling as no coffee grounds entering this stream at all as all staff trained to segregate into dedicated coffee bins
  • Harnessed potential of coffee grounds in the most efficient manner
  • Cost-neutral
  • No additional vehicles on the road to undertake collections from site
  • No extra work required on the office floors or from cleaning teams as they were already transporting the coffee grounds from floors to loading bay
  • Implemented service on the 3rd August 2017. To the end of September 2017 the client has managed to divert 2560 kgs of waste coffee grounds, which would have ended up in general waste or contaminated recycling and gone to energy from waste facilities

Coffee ground facts

  • 500,000 tonnes of coffee ground waste produced each year in the UK, which costs the industry over £70 million per year in disposal costs 
  • 1 tonne of waste coffee grounds can be used to produce about half a tonne of biomass pellets
  • 1 tonne of waste coffee grounds can be used to produce 280 individual Coffee Logs (or 35 bags)
  • The bio-bean process produces c.30% less GHG emissions than AD and 60% less than landfill