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Should you recycle coffee?

You love drinking coffee. We like drinking coffee. Better yet, we all love drinking coffee. As coffee has become a bigger part in our lives, and we drink more of it, more waste of coffee grounds is produced.

In this blog we will go over why you should recycle coffee, why is coffee waste a problem, how can we reduce coffee waste and what can you do about it.

Why you should recycle coffee

Coffee comes from Earth, it is a natural ingredient and has great impact on our society. However, coffee travels a long way and the process of growing the plants, harvesting, collection, grinding, roasting etc. is even longer. All of this to, at the end, brew a cup of coffee that only takes 25 seconds. What is left afterwards is a full trash bag and a cup of coffee.

As coffee is natural, it is widely suggested that to be used in a variety of ways: You can use it as a fertiliser, a body scrub or use it in baked goods. In the end, there is just way more upside to be had by prolonging the use of coffee than to just end up in the garbage. But why is coffee waste a problem?

What is the issue with coffee waste?

Most likely, used coffee grounds and the waste gathered is sent to a landfill where it will start decomposing and emitting methane gasses, which is a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent then CO2 (carbon dioxide). This is the biggest contributor to global warming.

The issue with coffee waste is that we have too much of it, due to our dietary choices and social norms. 167 million bags of 60kg coffee bags were consumed worldwide in 2021. That is 10 million tons of waste. So how can we reduce coffee waste?

How we can reduce coffee waste

Reducing coffee waste is not as easy as history shows that we are drinking more of it.

The graph below shows the consumption of coffee and tea in Denmark over more than a 50 year span. As it shows, people consume more and more hot beverages as the years go on.

source: Statistics Denmark

Though this graph does not explicitly show coffee consumption, but rather is bundled with tea and cocoa, it is still a good indicator of higher consumption in caffeine related products.

However, there has been somewhat of a drop in coffee consumption, and that is after the introduction of soft drinks. Take a look at the graph below from USA that shows the consumption of the previously mentioned beverages. As coffee was a beverage you would drink on social occasions, the introduction of soft drinks clearly shows a big change in consumer preferences for drinks in social settings.

We do admit this data is not directly related to Denmark, but as America is a big economic country and has a lot of influence, it does indicate that a similar effect could have taken place, though not as severe.

So, soft drinks are seen as alternatives and this can be a way to reduce coffee waste. So, the less coffee we drink, the better, right? Well, actually not.

Coffee as fertiliser

Coffee has a lot of nitrogen in it, which helps the soil stay warmer and become a more fertilised area to grow plants and insects. So in this instance, the more coffee waste we have, the more fertiliser we have!

You might find that some pages on the Internet advocate to not use coffee grounds to nurture the dirt due to its high levels of methane.

More on this topic in our next blog post: To fertilise or not to fertilise, that is the question.

But...there is one more way we would like to touch up on that can beneficial to not have less coffee waste but to keep it in the food chain for longer.

Using coffee grounds in food

We can actually keep coffee grounds around longer in our diets, as more innovation has enabled us the ability to use used coffee grounds in food products, beauty products and manufacturing industries.

As used coffee still maintains a good amount of fibre, protein, minerals and caffeine, it is a great addition to baked goods. This is what we are here to do. Even if all of these options are good solutions, we believe that companies should also do something about coffee waste and not only individuals. This is why we up-cycle this amazing resource into food ingredients. You can read more about our product on this website, just browse around.

What can you do about coffee waste?

Should you recycle coffee? Absolutely yes, even more if you are a café owner.

As a regular drinker of coffee, you can be more conscious of the fact that we drink a lot of coffee and bring awareness to ways that we can use coffee waste. We will hardly drink less coffee, so it is better if we know how we can use coffee grounds to enrich our planet and our lives.

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