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Stansted to be first airport to convert all coffee waste to solid biofuels

Posted 17 October 2019 · Add Comment

London Stansted is set to become the first airport in the world to convert all its coffee grounds to solid biofuels, after a successful trial with Cambridgeshire-based bio-bean, the world’s largest recycler of coffee grounds.

Image courtesy MAG / bio-bean

Passengers at London Stansted drink over six million cups of coffee a year as they pass through the terminal, creating over 150 tonnes of coffee waste. The partnership, which will begin on 21 October will see all 21 of the airport’s coffee shops, restaurants and bars segregate all spent coffee grounds before being transported to bio-bean’s hi-tech processing facility near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

The grounds are then converted into Coffee Logs, each made from the grounds of around 25 cups of coffee and used in domestic wood burners and multi-fuel stoves as a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional fuels.  Recycling coffee grounds this way saves 80% on CO2e emissions than if they were sent to landfill and 70% than if they were sent to an anaerobic digestion facility and mixed with food waste, as currently happens. 

This new scheme is the latest addition to London Stansted’s award-winning ‘zero waste to landfill’ policy and offers an even more efficient and sustainable way to transform waste to energy.

Other initiatives underway at the airport include a range of recycling, reduce and reuse initiatives. This includes partnerships with local foodbanks which just last week marked 15 tonnes of donations with a delivery of items surrendered by passengers at airport security. These range from unopened jars of Marmite, peanut butter and jam along with larger bottles of toiletries, which are sorted and transported by a team of airport volunteers to various locations across Essex, East Herts and Uttlesford.

To mark the start of the new scheme, London Stansted is giving away around 2,000 of the new Coffee Logs to staff and local residents in time for colder weather over the winter months. The airport will be working with local partners to organise distribution.

Steve Griffiths, London Stansted’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Getting your coffee fix at the airport is a staple of many people’s journeys, but with six million cups being sold at Stansted every year, it’s great to find a new, sustainable way of using the 150 tonnes of waste that produces.

“We are always looking at new and innovative ways to reduce waste and our impact on the environment and are extremely proud of our track record and commitment to sending zero waste to landfill. While achieving this can sometimes be easier said than done, this exciting new partnership is the perfect example of what is possible if we think a bit differently, and we are proud to be the first UK airport to convert its coffee waste to fuel.

“This perfectly complements our existing initiatives such as donating to local food banks, giving out free reusable bottles and cups and recently increasing the number of water refill stations throughout the terminal.”

George May, Director and CCO of bio-bean, said: “We’re thrilled to have our local international airport choose to recycle its spent coffee grounds with bio-bean. Transforming 150 tonnes of coffee waste every year into Coffee Logs will save over 85 tonnes of CO2e emissions.”

“Stansted’s commitment to recycling its coffee waste is a step in the right direction for the aviation industry, and one we hope will serve as a catalyst for others to follow suit.”

Harris + Hoole Marketing & Brand Manager, Katherine Laden, said: “Harris + Hoole are proud to work with MAG London Stansted Airport on this unique and innovative scheme. We as a business are passionate about reducing waste and working to support our local communities. The idea that our coffee grinds are being turned into fuel to heat local homes is really exciting and we hope this inspires other companies to find ways to recycle and reduce waste in their local areas too.”


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