As part of the WaysTUP! project, Aimplas has produced a plastic wrap from coffee grounds. (Image: Aimplas)
Plastic wrap from coffee grounds
Biobased waste from communities or restaurants accumulates in large quantities, and can be a source for other biobased products and high quality secondary raw materials. A project called WaysTUP! is dedicated to just these materials and their possible further usage.
One of the first results is a biobased plastic wrap made from coffee grounds. Coffee is a popular beverage in Germany, too: In 2022, the turnover rate for coffee was 4.77 kilograms per capita. In the UK, with 2.8 kilograms per capita the consumption is less, but the British love for coffee is nevertheless great and produces large amounts of organic waste in form of coffee grounds.
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in many countries. The high rate of consumption also means a large amount of coffee grounds and organic waste. (Image: unsplash/Devin Avery)
Couldn’t we keep this organic waste in circulation and continue to use it further? This is the central question asked by WaysTUP! A project not only for coffee grounds, but for other types of waste. All in all, the goal is to increase awareness in the communities for possibly reusable materials and circulation. Long term, the projects are supposed to find new use possibilities and then establish systems for collection.
A total of 26 research centres, local authorities, companies and city networks participate in the project and are looking for solutions for different materials. One product now turned coffee grounds into raw material for plastic wrap.
The coffee grounds are collected from restaurants in the UK by Bio-Bean, the world’s largest coffee waste recycler. This biobased waste is then processed by the Spanish centre for plastic technology Aimplas and turned into biobased plastic wrap.
Waste materials becomes reusable
WaysTUP! can keep coffee grounds in circulation as polymers for plastic wrap or as coffee oil. (Image: unsplash/Athena Lam)
The goal of the WaysTUP! project is to find new value creation chains for urban organic waste. To achieve this, the coffee grounds are not only used to gain polymers for making plastic wrap, but also for coffee oil.
"WaysTUP! is a clear example of how organic waste can play an important role in the transformation to a circular economy, by tapping its potential to become a source for high value secondary resources. In our case, we are turning coffee waste into plastic wrap for packaging."
The project by Aimplas creates a PHA (polyhydroxylalkanoate) biopolymer that can be further processed using extrusion. This way it is possible to produce a biobased plastic wrap which is suitable for different kinds of flexible packaging. PHAs are also biodegradable.
Since 2019, the plastic technology centre has been a part of WaysTUP! and is working on using coffee grounds as packaging material.