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Bio Bean – Coffee waste as the black gold of the 21st century

This article is part of our series on the participants in this year’s Green Challenge Deep Dive at Rockstart. Our 10-day mini-accelerator allows the finalists of the Green Challenge 2014 to refine their business plan and work with our mentors in individualized training sessions. At the end of the program, the companies present their ideas in front of investors and their mentors.

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When Arthur Kay, founder of Bio Bean, is talking about the much needed energy that coffee provides for him, most of us will assume that he is talking about his first sip of the eye-opener on a typical Monday-morning. However, if he goes on to say that he is getting this energy by setting his coffee on fire, or putting it in his car, many would probably ask him to stay away from double espressos for a while. 

But Arthur’s answers are not the result of some caffeine-induced delirium. On the contrary, what inspired his team is not the bitter beverage itself, but rather its byproduct: the used coffee grounds. Bio Bean is using the leftovers from brewing coffee to create pellets for heating and biodiesel to fuel cars.

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To do this, the company collects stale coffee grounds from shops and factories and delivers them to their processing plant. In a procedure that is 100% carbon-neutral, the waste is then repurposed into advanced biofuels. No scraps are left behind, following the premise that there is no such thing as waste, only ressources in the wrong place. The pellets created in this process have nearly twice the energy value of wood, while extracting biodiesel in this way saves space on farmland that can be used to grow food crops.

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In the UK, where Bio Bean is operating at the moment, about 500 000 tonnes of coffee grounds are produced each year. This leads to a CO2 emission of about 1.8 million tonnes through the disposal of the coffee grounds in landfills that costs the industry 67 million Euros in waste management. The recycling of one tonne of coffee ground can save up to 7 tonnes in CO2 emissions, the equivalent of a car ride from Amsterdam to Beijing and back – twice.

With this business model, Bio Bean was able to convince the jury of the Green Challenge 2014. As winners of the grand price, the company received €500,000. During the Deep Dive Sessions, their goal is to gather information on the dutch market and discuss their branding. 

Read more about other finalists of the Green Challenge 2014:

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