Being that over 120 billion disposable cups are used in the U.S. alone each year, it's no surprise to hear that landfills have been filling up quickly over the years. Plastic K-Cups and coffee pods have contributed to this growing shortage of space as well. But it's not only the cups, pods, and lids that are creating waste. Have you ever considered those used up coffee grounds?
Unlike plastic cups and lids, coffee grounds are naturally biodegradable so you might not think it has much of an environmental footprint. In fact, many people use coffee grounds to help fertilize their gardens. My mother actually has a friend of hers who regularly comes to pick up used coffee grounds to feed her flowers.
Related Article: Uses for Old Coffee Grounds
The truth is that as naturally biodegradable as coffee grounds are, they still need a place to go. One innovative entrepreneur decided to find another use for coffee grounds and started a company called Kaffeeform. The company creates reusable coffee mugs out of recycled coffee grounds.
For those who may not know, plastic materials take a very very long time to decompose. We're talking around the order of 1000 years….a millennia! Even something as natural as paper can take upwards of 20 years to decompose. This being the case, the idea of a coffee cup made from coffee grounds seemed like a much needed one.
A Berlin-based startup, the company has been spent the last 3 years pushing the boundaries of innovation and sustainability.
Julian Lechner, Kaffeeform's founder, has further helped with environmental sustainability by relying only bike logistics to acquire his coffee grounds. The company travels to different cafes in the Berlin area and gathering the grounds needed to produce these unique mugs.
Kaffeeform works with Crow Cycle Courier Collective to make this all work. The courier company acquires an average of about 110lb of coffee per day. These grounds are then brought to a workshop for persons with disabilities who prepare and dry the coffee grounds. From this workshop, the grounds are taken to another facility to be processed. This process involves mixing the grounds with renewable materials such as grains, natural resins, and plant fibers. This blend is then carefully shaped under high heat and pressure.
You might be wondering, how many coffee grounds are needed to make a single mug? The answer is 6 cups. The final product will consist of about 40% coffee grounds with the remaining 60% made of renewable raw materials. But most importantly, it will be 100% recyclable.
The final result looks like a classy durable cup that admittedly, even looks edible.
These 100% recyclable coffee mugs are found in 20 coffee shops across Berlin and in 150 vendors in Europe.
What was once considered “supposable waste” has been utilized as a durable and valuable raw material. As the saying goes, “one man's trash is another man's treasure” and Kaffeeform has built a vision is on this very premise. Lechner even has plans to go beyond creating just coffee mugs. He's exploring the world of furniture and lifestyle products next.
Perhaps one day I'll be drinking my coffee in a Kaffeeform cup using a coffee table and couch made from coffee grounds. That'll be a good day.