Bio-bean, a British start-up, is collaborating with Shell and Argent Energy to create a new source of biofuel from used coffee beans.
Founder Arthur Kay has been working on the technique since 2013, which combines oil extracted from used coffee beans with other fuels, such as diesel, to create a new, less environmentally-hazardous source of fuel.
Grounds from various cafes and restaurants are stored after use and collected by the company, which transports it to an oil extraction facility.
The product is called B20 biofuel, meaning 20% of it comes from coffee oils.
Bio-bean estimates that Britain produces over 551,000 US tons of used coffee grounds a year, and has produced 6,000 litres of coffee oil so far.
This is the equivalent of fuelling one London bus for a whole year.
Transport for London is working on cutting down emissions from buses and other forms of public transport, and will use B20 biofuel for its double deckers from 2018, with the potential to power up to a third of London travel network.
There’s no need to modify the buses to use the hybrid fuel, and the process saves the grounds from going to landfill and emitting greenhouse gases.
Around 400 million cups of coffee are drunk per day across the world, and Bio-bean has already taken advantage of this source by recycling it to make another product, Coffee Logs.
Each log is made of 25 cups of coffee, which burns hotter and lasts longer than traditional logs, as well as being 100% carbon neutral.
There are some questions over how much energy the process of turning grounds to fuel uses, and if the shipping of used grounds and creating coffee oil can reduce more pollution than just recycling the grounds.
Bio-bean has committed to fine-tuning the process, however, and is already working on a purer, more efficient blend than the B20 biofuel.
Kay said: “[We’ve] created thousands of litres of coffee-derived B20 biodiesel which will help power London buses for the first time.
“It’s a great example of what can be done when we start to reimagine waste as an untapped resource.”