Replacing palm oil with spent coffee grounds?
A Scottish firm specialising in high-value products derived from used coffee grounds claim they are developing pioneering environmentally-efficient processes that could lead to a sustainable and alternative ingredient to palm oil.
The two entrepreneurs behind Revive Eco, Fergus Moore and Scott Kennedy, say the potentially “game-changing” concept comes as some manufacturers are under pressure to find alternatives to palm oil and more ethically-driven consumers turn their backs on the controversial ingredient.
“The key components making up the oils we can extract from the coffee grounds are the same as that which make up palm oil, meaning we can offer industries a more sustainable, locally-sourced alternative, while not having to compromise on the quality or effectiveness of the ingredients they are using in their products,” Kennedy told FoodIngredientsFirst.
Revive works with waste management partners to collect used coffee grounds across Scotland. The company then converts them into natural oils which have wide-ranging uses across the food and beverage industry, and numerous others.
Few ingredients come under pressure for alternatives as much as palm oil, which is regularly linked to deforestation and is highlighted by NGOs as ripe for replacement.
This market dynamic has led to a strong rise in products claiming to be “palm-oil-free,” with a 73 percent CAGR reported from 2015 to 2017 by Innova Market Insights.
In terms of the top global market categories as a percentage of new food & beverage launches with a palm-oil-free claim in 2017, bakery (55 percent), spreads (7 percent) and cereals (5 percent) dominated.
Kennedy says that the spotlight is on palm oil “for all the wrong reasons” and so potentially providing a local and more sustainable alternative to all the industries that currently use palm oil is expected to be hugely successful.
The start-up plans to launch its first demonstration unit in Scotland later this year and has big plans for a roll out. “We will be expanding our operations at the start of next year, which will see us rapidly increasing the volume of coffee grounds we are collecting and processing,” he notes.
The shift towards a circular economy is very clear to see, especially in Scotland, the entrepreneur notes.
“There are many other businesses like ours that are striving to utilise waste materials to create, new more sustainable materials and products,” he says. “This has been a truly exciting shift for us to witness, as we are firm believers that business is an incredibly powerful tool to bring about real change in the world,” Kennedy adds.
Coffee grounds, as with many other waste streams, possess huge natural value, and thus fit in naturally with this shift towards being more circular. “The coffee industry itself is definitely shifting, with more of a focus being placed on sustainable coffee, as well as initiatives to get rid of things such as single-use coffee cups,” he explains.
Revive has also secured £235,000 ($305,118) of funding from the Zero Waste Scotland agency.
The company is also representing Scotland and Northern Ireland in the final of the Chivas Venture competition in Amsterdam next week and could receive a share of further funding. Twenty global companies will be competing for the prize.