Recycle Coffee Grounds: A Smart Way For Cafes To Save Money!
If you are like me – you can not get through a day without one or more (make that eight!) coffees. You will of course ask yourself – is it possible to recycle coffee grounds and what options are available. In today’s blog – we will look at this from the perspective of a business – like a cafe or restaurant – but of course the same approach can work for any house or private residence.
But before I get started – let me make a nice cup of coffee!
Why can coffee grounds be a problem for your cafe business?
It is hard to believe that not so long ago – Australia was a dedicated tea drinking nation. Coffee was mostly bought in a dried style – i.e. almost like gravy granules. For those older folk (like myself) you may even remember liquid coffee – to which you had to add boiling water.
Thankfully – Australian coffee has come a long way in recent years – and is now rightly regarded as one of the best in the world. The website traveller.com.au – even judges our coffee to be the best in the world – better than Italy, France etc.
So what could possible be a problem
Well the potential problem is two fold:
One – if you simply dump your coffee grounds in general waste – it will almost certainly end up in landfill. Scientists tell us that due to the lack of oxygen in a landfill environment – the decaying matter emits more methane – which is a worse gas for the environment than CO2 – so we want to reduce our coffee grounds going to landfill as much as possible.
Two – if you run a business in Australia – you will be aware that your general waste bin hire costs increase with the weight of the bin. In Australia in 2019 – waste levys on dumping at landfill are increasing all the time – and are now over $310+GST to dump at landfill in Sydney per tonne.
As we all know – coffee grounds can be extremely heavy – and push up the overall weight and hence cost of your general waste bins.
We have worked with busy cafes in the past – who serve very little food – and we have found their bins to be extremely heavy. In nearly every case it was down to large amounts of ground coffee. See our recent blog on baby wipes and if they can be recycled.
A smart business will seek ways to recycle coffee grounds to reduce this weight and hence costs. Check out our infographic on how two seemingly identical cafes can pay very different amounts for their waste collections.
So – how can we recycle coffee grounds?
As with any organic waste stream – such as food waste etc – your options for recycling coffee grounds is basically an organic waste bin collection or some form of composting.
Composting has very interesting aspects when it comes to recycling coffee grounds.
An organic food waste bin – will take the coffee grounds (and any other food waste) to produce electricity – or for industrial composting.
We will discuss why using coffee grounds as fertiliser is such a great option.
Why are recycled used coffee grounds so good for plants and gardens?
Any organic matter will basically be good for helping plants to grow. However, coffee grounds can really add an extra kick to your garden.
I will admit that my gardening expertise – is very limited – so I will quote from some more expert websites below:
Gardeningknowhow.com tells us that: “Composting coffee grounds helps to add nitrogen to your compost pile.”
“Used coffee grounds for gardening does not end with compost. Many people choose to place coffee grounds straight onto the soil and use it as a fertilizer. The thing to keep in mind is while coffee grounds add nitrogen to your compost, they will not immediately add nitrogen to your soil.”
“Many people feel that coffee grounds lower the pH (or raise the acid level) of soil, which is good for acid loving plants. But this is only true for unwashed coffee grounds. “Fresh coffee grounds are acidic. Used coffee grounds are neutral.” If you rinse your used coffee grounds, they will have a near neutral pH of 6.5 and will not affect the acid levels of the soil.”
Sciencedaily.com tells us that: “Coffee grounds can be an excellent addition to a compost pile. The grounds are relatively rich in nitrogen, providing bacteria the energy they need to turn organic matter into compost. About 2 percent nitrogen by volume, used coffee grounds can be a safe substitute for nitrogen-rich manure in the compost pile.”
You can also see a more detailed article here.
Conclusion and ideas for how you can recycle coffee grounds in your business
Obviously – not all cafe owners will have a large garden or be interested at all in gardening.
Some cafes are now bagging their coffee grounds – and letting any interested customers simply take them away.
Think about it – you go for a coffee – and take away some free fertiliser for your garden also.
The added benefit for the cafe is that this will hugely reduce their spend on general waste. See our blog on what the density of general waste means.