Changhua barista creates circular economy for coffee grounds

19 June 2024 13:17

Center for Green Economy

Changhua - A barista is turning coffee waste into mosquito repellant, charcoal, soap, and other products according to Taiwan’s Overseas Community Affairs Council, or OCAC. The barista is now working on selling the coils in stores throughout the island.

Chang Chih-min has found a second life for the coffee grounds, coffee cherry skins, and other waste that his café generates in Changhua City.

The barista has learned how to make charcoal, deodorizer, fertilizer, mosquito repellant, soap, and tea from those materials, creating a circular economy that will help replace the extraction of virgin materials and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

His journey started when he realized how preparing coffee consumes large amounts of water, electricity, and heating after working in a café that uses coffee beans that his parents grow on Changhua County's Baguashan Mountain.

“[Change] started looking into sustainable recycling practices after seeing the massive amounts of coffee grounds that were the byproducts of his business, said a story published on June 19 on the website of Taiwan’s Overseas Community Affairs Council, or OCAC. The agency fosters cultural and economic exchanges between Taiwan and ethnic Taiwanese and Chinese communities overseas.

The mosquito-repelling incense coils that he makes from coffee grounds have sold well, he said. He is now working on selling the coils in stores throughout the island.  Other products that he has created also work well using coffee waste, he added.

"To convert coffee grounds into charcoal, the process of pyrolysis takes just a day, while traditional wood would require a month or so," Chang said, referring to the process of converting biomass into a fuel or other chemical. "With coffee grounds drastically reducing the time for pyrolysis, it means a decrease in energy consumption. Meanwhile, coffee soaps could cut the time for handwashing by a third, which also means a one-third reduction in water consumption."

He hoped to recycle coffee into fuel sticks that coffee producers could use to power their plants, creating a virtuous cycle of consumption, production, and recycling waste into energy for more consumption and production. ce/jd

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