The oil giant Shell is partnering with the biofuel firm bio-bean to begin powering some of London’s buses with processed waste coffee grounds.
To be more specific, some of London’s buses will begin using a new biofuel dubbed “B20,” which features a 20% bio-component containing part coffee oil. Importantly, the new biofuel can be used by the buses in use now as is — there’s no need to modify the buses using the fuel in any way.
“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,” commented bio-bean founder Arthur Kay. “It’s a great example of what can be done when we start to reimagine waste as an untapped resource.”
The press release provides more: “The average Londoner drinks 2.3 cups of coffee a day which produces over 200,000 tonnes of waste a year, much of which would otherwise end in landfill with the potential to emit 126 million kg of CO2. 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. 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.”
While it’s easy to view this new initiative simply as a PR exercise for Shell, there is indeed quite a lot of high-energy “waste” produced by coffee consumption that would otherwise simply be “wasted” (buried in some landfill somewhere). Using this “waste” to make biofuels (or even just as compost) makes a lot of sense.