Bio-bean uses coffee to power buses in food waste fight

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Waste coffee grounds used to fuel London buses ©brebca/iStock
Waste coffee grounds used to fuel London buses ©brebca/iStock

Related tags European commission

Clean technology company Bio-bean is working with petrol giant Shell to power some of London’s buses using a biofuel made out of waste coffee grounds.

Founded in 2013, Bio-bean is a UK company that has industrialised the process of recycling coffee grounds waste into advanced biofuels.

The B20 biofuel that will be added to the London bus supply chain contains a 20% bio-component which partially comprises of coffee oil. It is hoped the new fuel source will offer a cleaner, more sustainable energy source and decrease emissions.

Bio-bean also produces coffee logs from recycled coffee grounds as an alternative solid fuel for stoves, woodburners and open fires.

London’s coffee sector produces over 200,000 tonnes of waste a year, much of which would end in landfill. Bio-bean said this has the potential to emit 126 million kg of CO2. To combat this and promote a circular economy, Bio-bean works to collect some of these waste coffee grounds from high street chains and factories.

The grounds are dried and processed before coffee oil is extracted. Bio-bean works with its fuel partner Argent Energy to process this oil into a blended B20 biofuel.

"Our coffee logs have already become the fuel of choice for households looking for a high-performance, sustainable way to heat their homes - and now, with the support of Shell, bio-bean and Argent Energy have created thousands of litres of coffee-derived B20 biodiesel which will help power London buses for the first time,"​ said Bio-bean's founder Arthur Kay. "It's a great example of what can be done when we start to reimagine waste as an untapped resource."

To date, 6,000 litres of coffee oil has been produced, which if used as a pure-blend for the bio component and mixed with mineral diesel to form a B20, could help power the equivalent of one London bus for a year, the company revealed.

This latest collaboration is part of Shell's #makethefuture energy relay, which supports entrepreneurs.

Sinead Lynch, Shell UK chair, said: "We're pleased to be able to support bio-bean to trial this innovative new energy solution which can help to power buses, keeping Londoners moving around the city - powered in part by their waste coffee grounds."

Repurposing food and beverage side-streams is a key priority for the European food sector as it works to advance the European Commission’s circular economy strategy.

The EC has placed food waste at the centre of its strategy to deliver on commitments made under the Paris Climate Change Accord and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

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