Coffee waste powers London’s red buses

The average Londoner drinks 2.3 cups of coffee each day, producing more than 200,000 tonnes of waste a year, much of which ends in landfill. Those concerned about the environmental impact can now offset their carbon footprint in two ways by using the capital’s iconic red bus fleet.

A new initiative from British startup Bio-bean, with financial and technical help from energy giant Royal Dutch Shell and fuel blender Argent Energy, is extracting oil from old coffee beans to make biofuel that, from 20 November, is helping fuel London’s double-decker buses.

The project will supply 6,000 litres a year of the fuel, according to a report by the Independent.

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Bio-bean founder Arthur Kay, whose company also makes solid fuel pellets from coffee waste, was quoted as saying partnerships with thousands of coffee shops across the United Kingdom provided the used coffee grounds.

“It’s got a high oil content – 20 per cent oil by weight in the waste coffee grounds – so it’s a really great thing to make biodiesel out of,” he told the Independent.

The waste is converted in the company’s Cambridgeshire factory and the oil blended with diesel fuel to make up 20 per cent of the finished biofuel.

Bio-bean, which was founded in 2013, plans to expand throughout the UK and eventually to continental Europe and the United States.

The company’s website states the UK produces 500,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds each year, which contain valuable compounds.

The use of the coffee-derived biodiesel in London’s bus fleet can make a significant and sustainable contribution to powering future transport systems, Bio-bean says.

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