Starbucks, an already impressively green company, is now taking it one step further by experimenting with a new recycling process that would turn their leftover coffee grinds and pastries into laundry detergent and bio plastics.
Students at the City University of Hong Kong are leading the way on this biorefinery process that involves combining baked goods and fungi in order to reduce the carbohydrates into simple sugars. Then, the materials are set to ferment in a vat where bacteria gets to work on turning the sugars into succinic acid. Succinic acid helps produce a number of things such as laundry detergent, medicine, and even plastic.
As an example of what a difference this could make in Starbucks waste disposal, the Starbucks in Hong Kong currently produces around 5,000 tons of coffee grind and pastry waste a year, waste that is generally incinerated, dumped in a landfill, or composted. Now imagine that waste being recycled into something useful yet again. I know we’d buy some Starbucks brand laundry detergent – especially if “Coffee Scented” was an option.