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BUILT FROM THE GROUND(S) UP

Companies create products from coffee waste

The coffee industry is known to produce tons of waste in the form of water, cherry pulp, husks, and leftover grounds. While some of these byproducts can be reused as fertilizer, much of it ends up in landfills. With sustainability becoming a global priority, new methods have arisen to convert coffee waste into usable products, which is important to today’s eco-conscious youth.

SUNGLASSES

Ukrainian-based eyewear company Ochis has designed the first pair of organic sunglasses made from a combination of coffee and flax. Founder Max Gavrilenko and his team wanted to create sunglasses out of natural materials, without the use of petroleums. Instead, they used a biopolymer made from coffee grounds, finely ground flax, and natural glue made from soybean oil to construct the shades. The eco-friendly frames are biodegradable, smell like coffee, and come in five stylish shapes. Modern youth will appreciate the brand’s fashionable use of waste as they consider sustainability an important factor in their purchase decisions.

FURNITURE

Xavier Loránd wanted to celebrate his love for coffee through his work as a designer. Loránd hails from Veracruz, which is the second largest coffee producer in Mexico. After a month of collecting used coffee from local cafés, he cleaned, washed, sun dried, and ground the beans into a fine consistency. He then combined them with fine wood husk and plant-based resin and pressed the mixture into molds for the surfaces of coffee and side tables. The final pieces have a similar texture to cork but with the scent of coffee. Loránd’s innovative use of coffee waste in furniture design was acknowledged during this year’s Design Week Mexico where his work was displayed.

ELECTRICITY

The coffee industry generates an enormous amount of liquid waste in the process of producing the world’s supply of coffee. To help build a more sustained model, UK and Colombian scientists created a method to convert the wastewater generated during seed washing and the making of instant coffee into energy using a microbial fuel cell. A microbial fuel cell is a bio-electrochemical device that uses bacteria to convert organic material into electric energy. The machine can be applied to the liquid waste and collect a small amount of electricity, making the process more beneficial for farmers who can use it for their own means.