Coffee shops fueling Londoners with a morning caffeine fix will also be helping to power office buildings and supermarkets, under a new capital-wide scheme.
The innovative coffee ground collection service is the brainchild of advanced biofuel company bio-bean, winner of the Mayor of London’s inaugural Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award. The company will turn waste coffee grounds collected from London coffee shops into advanced biomass pellets, which will then be used to power energy networks with the capacity to heat up to 15,000 homes. The support and funding from the award has helped to turn founder and chief executive Arthur Kay’s idea into a viable, now nationwide business, employing over 20 people.
“The first-ever Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award gave me (and bio-bean) a great start,” Kay said. “The London collection service marks a milestone in our UK development, as we collect waste coffee grounds at every scale, saving money on waste-disposal fees and creating sustainability advantages for each of our clients."
At the launch of the program last week, Mayor Boris Johnson called on more students to get involved in London’s thriving “green” economy and submit sustainable business ideas as he launched the 2016 Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award with a top prize of £20,000. He was joined by Kay at independent coffee shop Workshop Coffee in Clerkenwell, one of hundreds of coffee shops, office blocks and transport hubs in London now part of the daily coffee ground collection service run in collaboration with recycling company First Mile.
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“Our green economy is booming and I want the next generation of Low Carbon Entrepreneurs to help make London the greenest, most sustainable innovative city on earth,” Johnson said. “The roaring success of previous winners like Bio-bean demonstrates the huge market for green technology ideas. They’ve done the hard grind and Londoners can now enjoy their daily coffee fix in the safe knowledge that as well as their own caffeine kick, the energy levels of as many as 15,000 homes are being boosted!”
The competition has helped many university students launch innovative businesses including SolarBox, which turns unused telephone boxes into solar-powered mobile phone stations, and online clothes-swapping website Clotho London. The value of the green industry to the city is already as much as £30 billion a year and it employs 160,000 people, growing throughout the recession and now at a rate of six per cent a year.
Bio-bean is the first company in the world to industrialize the process of recycling waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels. Its factory has the capacity to process 50,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds each year, the equivalent of one in every ten cups of coffee drunk in the UK, and at full capacity turn these into enough power to heat the equivalent of over 15,000 homes. In addition to saving money for customers, each tonne recycled through bio-bean’s process saves up to 6.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. Bio-bean has already secured a deal with Network Rail to collect waste coffee grounds from London’s seven largest train stations and has plans for even greater expansion.
This year’s awards will be sponsored by Citi and will offer £20,000 and paid internships at Citi in the UK, where the bank employs almost 10,000 people. 10 finalists will pitch to a panel of well-known judges in “Dragon’s Den” style and the winners will receive funding to put towards their business idea. The competition is an important part of Johnson’s vision to make London the European capital for clean technology and to nourish young entrepreneurship.
Michael Lavelle, head of Corporate and Investment Banking, UK, at Citi, said: “We’re thrilled to be the new sponsor of this important initiative in London. At Citi, we are committed to developing innovative ways of financing projects that lead to sustainable growth. We recently announced that Citi will lend, invest and facilitate a total of $100 billion within the next 10 years to finance activities that reduce the impacts of climate change and create environmental solutions that benefit people and communities.”
The 2016 Low Carbon Entrepreneur Awards are accepting entries for ideas in transport, energy efficiency, product design and food waste until February 2016.
London businesses interested in joining bio-bean’s collection service can contact bio-bean.
Coffee isn't the only thing that will be helping UK residents stay warmer this winter: Waste heat from London underground trains is now being captured and used to heat local homes; while in Scotland, biofuel created from the by-products from whisky distilleries is also being used to heat local homes.