July 4th, 2022Saving the world one cup of coffee at a time
ORGANIC waste generated from the cafe trade is very large. Although people may not realise it as they sip on their morning latte or fresh juice, the average cafe can easily generate over 80 kilos of organic waste a week.
So, in hospitality towns, like Daylesford with more than 30 cafes and restaurants operating, that can translate to over 125 tonnes off to local landfill every year.
In the capital cities there are businesses that have emerged to collect and forward the material to community gardens and farmers. It was only a matter of time before such a service became available in our region.
In order to “save the planet one cup of coffee at a time”, Eliza Whitburn-Weber, director of fledgling business GroundUp Coffee Recyclers, offers the hospitality industry something simple and sustainable.
A means to reuse their coffee grounds and kitchen scraps by collecting and forwarding them on to local small scale and regenerative producers to consolidate food miles and reduce the cycle from coffee cup to farm and back again.
Eliza said the initiative came about when she owned a cafe in Melbourne and worked with a company that did the same thing.
“They used to take all the coffee grounds to community gardens and we always thought it was a great business model. When we moved to Ballarat two years ago we saw there was a huge gap in the market doing the same thing here.
“Since launching in July 2021 we have diverted over 40,000 kilos of used coffee grounds and kitchen scraps from landfill thanks to our wonderful resource partners. These resources have gone to our resource recipients to be composted and used on their farms.”
At the present time GroundUp has 13 partners and are about to team up with Stockland Shopping Centre in Wendouree. But GroundUp also wants to extend their service into the Daylesford area, visiting once a week to collect organic cafe waste, distributing it to nearby growers.
The important thing at this time is to make potential partners and recipients aware that this service is going to be available. As part of GroundUp’s philosophy regarding the reduction of food miles, the goal is to distribute the material within the same area.
“I have had a couple of people reach out from Daylesford and with Ballarat now up and running there is no reason why we couldn’t do our collections in Daylesford as well. There are also a few local producers who have indicated that they’d really like to be a part of this program, receiving what is collected.”
Coffee grounds are high in potassium and nitrogen and while fresh ground coffee is quite acidic, used grounds, especially if washed, will not adversely lower PH levels – the lower the PH the more acidic your soil is.
When mixed with other organic matter including sawdust, manure or garden waste it can also encourage beneficial micro-organisms and attract worms. In other words coffee waste can help create a fantastic compost mix for large and small growing operations: something which the Central Highlands has in abundance.
“It is exciting to see how much we have diverted so far and it is just the tip of the iceberg,”says Eliza. “We are in this unique position in a regional area where the community can benefit from the program we offer. We are just closing the loop basically.”
Words: Tony Sawrey | Image: Melissa Brennan