The GP focuses on the recovery and reuse of post-consumption Spent Coffee Grounds (SCG) collected from restaurants and cafes to make new valuable products.
Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, from which the beverage and SCG are extracted. Besides caffeine and some oil, the rest of the value is still contained in the SGC and is currently unexploited. The GP focuses on recovering and reusing post consumption SCGs, collecting them from HORECA activities to make new valuable products.
Many experiments have been carried out to make the SCG recovery feasible. Since 2007, first tests on growing mushrooms have been carried out with the support of Lavazza. In 2013 the project set new goals as the implementation of a business model: the research activity started by considering all SCG possible uses and it was carried out through a literature review, taking into account all the activities developed worldwide, as well as investigating specific case studies, and start-ups aimed to recycle this waste. From this overview, it was decided to make specific experiments on:
- the recovery of the oil fraction waste in collaboration with the Department of Drug Science and Technology of the Università degli Studi di Torino by experiencing extraction with microwave technology
- the production of ink for screen printing with the company Quasar ink and tested with the company Sericraft
- the production of paper with the company Favini
- the production of edible mushrooms.
The project was funded by Lavazza S.p.A. It involved a team of four researchers from the Politecnico di Torino who collaborated with Lavazza and other stakeholders.
Evidence of success
The GP designs a new business model for companies aimed to enhance local waste and build new supply chains involving different stakeholders. Moreover, this process involves a cascade-use of waste, through the extraction of oils and the exploitation of what remains for other activities.
Potential for learning or transfer
Coffee production generates negative environmental impacts due to the strong delocalization of production areas (mainly Africa and Latin America) and consumption areas (mainly Europe and North America), and the waste derived from the production and extraction processes. The project aims to generate new value from waste by producing edible mushrooms and many other products. It provides a new business model and opens new future scenarios designed to make new products saving other raw materials. This kind of GP is a perfect example of how to integrate in a sustainable way new outputs introduced in the system by imported products.
The possibility of transferability of the GP is very high: the business model can be easily implemented at low scale, as well as at a municipal level by involving cities and regions. Possible difficulties of cross-region implementation may concern the management of this type of waste, that is affected by specific local and national regulations.