Councils support expanding green coffee shop initiative

Two local Councils are giving practical support to a rapidly growing green initiative that takes used coffee grounds from local coffee shops and turns them into biofuel.

Free caddies to collect and transport the coffee grounds are being supplied by the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste (GCSW) Commercial Waste team to Cambridge Food Hub, which runs the Green Coffee Shop Scheme. Greater Cambridge Shared Waste is a partnership between South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils. It collects recycling, food waste and rubbish from residents across the area and offers a commercial service for local companies, schools and other organisations too.

The Green Coffee Shop initiative involves Cambridge Food Hub delivering barista-style oat milk produced at Glebe Farm in Kings Ripton to coffee shops, while at the same time collecting used coffee grounds. These grounds are then delivered to bio-bean, a clean tech firm at Alconbury which manufactures biofuels and biochemicals from spent coffee grounds. New oat milk is then collected (Alconbury is around seven miles from Kings Ripton) and the process begins again.

An initial load of caddies was supplied by the GCSW Commercial team when the scheme officially launched on 10 June – however, its success has meant that more are needed and were yesterday (Monday) collected from the service’s depot at Waterbeach. So far, almost 1,200KG of used coffee grounds has been recycled in this way – reducing the amount of money that local coffee shops pay for their commercial waste collection and boosting their green credentials. 23 coffee shops have signed up to the initiative so far, and the number continues to grow.

The further green benefits of the scheme are that oat milk requires less land and water than dairy milk to produce. Recycling the coffee grounds reduces waste and provides a carbon-neutral energy source. Shops that take part in the scheme are offered a discount on their waste collections by the GCSW Commercial team.

Cllr Bill Handley, South Cambridgeshire District Council's Lead Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Licensing, said: “I am very pleased that our Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Commercial Waste team is giving practical support to this excellent initiative. South Cambridgeshire District Council is determined to be green to the core and we’re thrilled to work with local organisations who share that ambition. Our Commercial Waste team are always pleased to talk about how local companies can reduce the amount of waste they produce so I’d encourage local businesses wanting to be greener to take a look at their website at

Cllr Rosy Moore, Cambridge City Council’s Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre, commented: “We’re committed as a Council to do all that we can to tackle climate change and warmly welcome the chance to work with groups like the Cambridge Food Hub who are doing the same. It’s excellent that we’ve been able to provide support to get this scheme up and running and I’m pleased to see that many local coffee shops who want to reduce their environmental impact are signing up. For residents, it’s worth remembering that you can put used coffee grounds on your home compost heap or in your green bin. Although these won’t be turned into biofuels, it will prevent them from ending up in landfill.”

Duncan Catchpole from the Cambridge Food Hub said: “'The main objective of the Cambridge Food Hub is to reduce the environmental impact of food through better supply chain coordination. The Green Coffee Shop Scheme is our first big initiative, we are managing to distribute a fantastic local product and divert material from the waste stream thanks to a little bit of joined-up thinking. Achieving these kinds of efficiencies requires collaboration from a number of stakeholders, and the support of Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service has been key to the success of this wonderful idea.”

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