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Coffee Grounds Poised to Power Future for Sustainable Transport, Fashion

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Your morning cup of java could be good for more than just a caffeine buzz — Shell and Vancouver-based sustainable clothing company LEZÉ the Label are fueling a sustainable future with the help of waste coffee grounds.

London buses will soon be powered by coffee, thanks to a new collaboration between Shell and clean technology company bio-bean. The partners will use spent coffee grounds to produce a new B20 biofuel, which will be used to fuel some of London’s buses — all without the need for modifications. The move will help the city reduce its emissions and tackle its serious air pollution problem.

“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 liters of coffee-derived B20 biodiesel which will help power London buses for the first time,” said Arthur Kay, Founder of bio-bean. “It’s a great example of what can be done when we start to reimagine waste as an untapped resource.”

The average Londoner drinks 2.3 cups of coffee a day, which produces over 200,000 tons 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.

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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 liters of coffee oil has been produced, which if used as 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. This latest collaboration is part of Shell’s #makethefuture energy relay, which supports entrepreneurs turning energy innovations into a positive impact for communities around the world.

“When it comes to clean energy, we are always looking for the next inventive solution. A good idea can come from anywhere, but with the scale and commitment of Shell, we can help enable true progress. We’re pleased to be able to support bio-bean to trial this innovative new energy solution which can help to power buses, keeping Londoners moving around the city — powered in part by their waste coffee grounds,” said Sinead Lynch, UK Country Chair at Shell.

bio-bean founder Arthury Kay won Shell LiveWIRE’s Innovation Award in 2013 and the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Program in 2012 with his ideas about turning coffee waste into fuel. bio-bean has since gone on to produce biomass pellets and briquettes called Coffee Logs, before this latest biofuel innovation.


Meanwhile, LEZÉ the Label, a Vancouver, Canada-based fashion label, is combatting restrictive workwear and the apparel industry’s negative environmental impacts with post-consumer waste. The brand has designed a pair of versatile, high-waisted trousers that blends the comfort of pajamas with the structure of dress pants. The pants are made with fabric derived from recycled plastic bottles and coffee grounds.

In addition to reducing the environmental footprint of the product, the use of plastic bottles and coffee grounds provides the fabric with unique qualities, such as elevated moisture wicking capabilities (the fabric allows for a 200 percent faster drying process) and odor control.

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