6th-12th March 2023 is Food Waste Action Week. Over the years we’ve been shown lots of different ways to reduce waste from coffee consumption, and we wanted to share some of them with you. Read on to learn how we’re reducing our waste here at Chimney Fire HQ with our roastery by-products, as well as some top tips for what you can do at home!
How to Reduce Your Coffee Waste
There are two main types of waste that result from drinking coffee: Leftover coffee grounds, and packaging.
The latter should be a simple process for most - our packaging is certified compostable (BS EN 13432), meaning you can put it in your food waste bin at home and your local council should do the rest. If you are lucky enough to have a home compost heap then you can also leave our coffee bags to compost, but it will likely take longer than this to fully biodegrade. Our testing shows it is the plastic zip and valve that takes the most time to break down. The QR cards that slot in the front of our bags are made of recycled card, and are therefore recyclable themselves.
But when it comes to leftover coffee grounds, you can really get creative…
Ways to Recycle Used Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds are both very acidic and very abrasive, giving you lots of options around the home and garden for reuse.
They will provide you with a nutritious and chemical-free fertiliser, improving drainage, water retention, and aeration within your soil. Be sure to mix them thoroughly so they don’t dry out and become a barrier to the soil.
While naturally acidic, the pH of coffee grounds can be neutralised by washing the grounds before sprinkling them on your soil. This means that it’s not just plants that love acidic soil (such as azaleas, gardenias, and all types of ferns) that will benefit.
Worms also love coffee grounds, so if you have a wormery a moderate amount can go straight in - including the filter paper if you’ve used one! However, they also work as a deterrent to slugs and snails if sprinkled near vulnerable plants.
What Else Can I do with Used Coffee Grounds?
For those who aren’t so green-fingered, there are other ways to utilise your used coffee grounds.
Coffee grounds are abrasive, and therefore work very well as either a body scrub or DIY cleaning product - a quick web search will yield a number of recipes for both of these. Innovative companies such as bio-bean also recycle used coffee grounds into biofuels, such as wood burner logs for the home and biomass boilers for industrial use.
Are Compostable Coffee Pods the Solution?
It is estimated that a third of UK households own a capsule coffee machine, and much has rightly been made in the media about issues surrounding the disposal of used pods.
There is no perfect solution. While composting bioplastics releases previously trapped methane back into the atmosphere, when it comes to the bag-and-return style of recycling made popular by big brands it is hard to find out what happens to them once they arrive back with the manufacturer. The consumer must trust that they are indeed being recycled, and are not ending up in landfill after all.
We believe our 100% compostable Nespresso® Compatible Pods represent the current best solution for minimising the environmental impact of capsule coffee machines, from both environmental and ethical standpoints.
Reducing Waste in Our Roastery
As a B Corp™ Certified business, we are committed to reducing waste wherever possible.
We recently published a blog detailing how none our coffee goes to landfill, even that which we cannot sell. Read all about the timeline of our beans here.