Renewables Now is publishing the ENERGY INNOVATOR column with the support of EIT InnoEnergy, the European sustainable energy accelerator. Our second blitz interview is with EcoBean - a company that gives coffee waste a second life as a source of energy and biopolymers.
April 3 (Renewables Now) - EcoBean Ltd has developed a technology for the production of briquettes from spent coffee grounds (SCG), but it did not stop there. The Polish startup has bigger plans for this waste product, which it agreed to share with Renewables Now readers.
What is your product/solution?
Food waste remains a key concern for the environment – as does recycling – and EcoBean provides a solution for waste coffee grounds which prevents them from going to landfill. We have performed detailed research on the potential end use for coffee waste. This included different methods of processing and creating useful by-products from recycled SCGs. As a result, we have developed a technology enabling us to give coffee waste a second life. We provide the following solutions:
- Converting coffee waste into coffee briquettes – two types of logs for use in the barbecue in summer season and in fireplaces in winter season.
- Using dry SCG as a filler to produce green polymer composites for a wide range of applications in the food service industry: dishes, furniture, interior design and many more.
We also have development projects in progress:
- Converting coffee waste into a polymer. Biopolymers are a material for producing disposal utensils for the food service industry (due to EU regulations, all disposable plastics will be banned from 2021, making a new solution for caps, straws, plates and food packaging).
- Creating flavourings and fragrances from SCG to be used in pharma and cosmetic industries.
Who are your clients?
Initially, our focus is on Poland where there are 18,000 points serving coffee, and sales are growing at 7% a year. Last year, 120,000 tonnes of SCGs were generated in Poland. We are planning to address 20% of the market, collecting 24,000 tonnes a year, from 8,000 points. We have a thorough, yet realistic plan which assumes fast growth of revenue. Our international focus is on Western and Northern Europe.
What are your priorities and goals for 2020?
We have successfully completed testing SCGs collection and launched pilot products. The plan for the coming months is to execute proof of concept (POC) to fine-tune the business model and test various scenarios of operation. On top of that, the goal of POC is to define all the processes which are required to fully satisfy our partner’s sustainability mission. During POC we plan to collect over 50 tonnes of spent coffee grounds which equals to over 30 tonnes of CO2 saved from going into the atmosphere.
What is EIT InnoEnergy’s role?
EIT InnoEnergy is EcoBean’s investor and remains crucial in the company’s development. It supports EcoBean in various fields, such as European expansion and mentorship, which is quite a unique quality of an investor. Just recently EIT InnoEnergy arranged a comprehensive logistics workshop for us which helped us in defining and optimising the roadmap of our collection process. EIT InnoEnergy’s broad network allows us to access top experts from the field of waste management which is crucial given our current development priorities.