Ground Coffee and Concrete: How your morning coffee can transform your morning walk
Last month lead author, Dr Rajeev Roychand, said the team at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia had developed a way to recycle used ground coffee in order to make stronger concrete.
It does so by replacing a portion of the sand required to make the concrete with biochar. This is a substance the coffee grounds are turned into, done with a low-energy process. It mirrors the way fresh coffee beans are roasted and prepared for use in coffee shops, only without oxygen. This lightweight residue is similar to charcoal and can improve the strength of the concrete by around 30%.
The idea came from the desire to reduce coffee waste in the workplace. Most waste coffee grounds at the moment in Australia actually go to landfills. Imagine that for the approximately 10 billion kilograms of coffee generated annually.
In the UK alone we throw away roughly 500,000 tonnes of ground coffee per year – we drink approximately 98 million cups of coffee per day.
Now imagine being able to give that coffee another shot at life.
But, it also has another added benefit – reducing the amount of sand used in construction. Every year construction projects use 50 billion tonnes of natural sand. Taken from river beds and banks, this is a finite resource. So, it’s reducing depletion of natural resources, reusing what we’re wasting and being a good example of how recycling can make a huge difference.
It’s always interesting to see what others across the world are doing and how construction methods are improving. It’s also great to see that these are ways that are going to help the environment – reducing our usage of natural resources and helping to keep coffee waste out of landfills!
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