Our seas are choke-full of single-use plastic items and there seems to be no end to this one terrible problem. While production is extremely easy, getting rid of plastic can take thousands of years. Despite years of warning against its use, and multiple laws against it, plastic consumption has not at all slowed down.
Berlin’s very own Julian Lechner has initiated a step in the right direction with his start-up Kaffeform. The coffee grounds we usually throw out is being used by this company in making reusable and recycled coffee cups.
Everyone loves their dose of morning bitter but we must be aware of the pollution it causes. The U.S. alone creates 120 billion coffee cups, which are single-use, each year. So one can only imagine the pollution caused by these cups throughout the rest of the world. Coffee is a standard drink accessible to all but it also generates heaps of non-biodegradable plastic as well as coffee grounds.
Lechner was a student of product design and in 2009, in university, he observed how much coffee everyone around him consumed every day. The average German can consume up to 14 pounds of coffee beans every year. In this fast-paced world, we all prefer to use disposable cups and even the paper cups take over 20 years to decompose.
Lechner hence came up with the idea of using refused coffee grounds to make environment-friendly coffee mugs. Kaffeeform was thus formed, and with the help of another start-up, Crow Cycle Courier Collective, they have embarked on the journey to reduce plastic usage. The Courier service collects 110pound coffee grounds every day. This is then taken to Kaffeeform workshops for cleaning.
This is then sent to another facility. There it is mixed with natural resins, beechwood grains, and plant fibers. With heat and pressure, 6 cups worth of coffee grounds is turned into one saucer and cup. The products thus created are completely biodegradable.
Kaffeeform has been a success for Lechner. 20 coffee shops in Berlin and 150 vendors in various parts of Europe use Lechner’s biodegradable products. Lechner has his eyes set on using the same technology in the future to create lifestyle products and furniture from coffee grounds.