During the roasting process coffee beans expand shedding a protective skin that is discarded as chaff. Over the years chaff has been used by farmers and gardening centers but it is essentially waste that must be removed from the facility.
After exhausting the list of conventional materials that are typically used to make bio plastics (corn, starch, sugarcane), the team at Club Coffee began testing PLA blended with chaff which has some unique properties.
ALSO: From Cup to Compost
“As it turns out, it makes an excellent compostable plastic,” said Claudio Gemmiti, Club Coffee’s senior v.p., innovation and strategic growth. Club discovered that coffee chaff is a fibrous material that loves water. In a moisture laden environment, it grabs and retains water making it a lot easier for the microbes to attack and break down products. “At a microscopic level it makes it really easy for the bugs to get at it,” said Gemmiti.
He said there were many iterations of the compostable ring “before we found the right combination that we use in our PürPod100 today. Adding coffee chaff to the plastic ring used in the PürPod100 hastens its journey from cup to compost.”
Coffee chaff marks only the beginning for Club Coffee’s venture into seeking alternative uses for products that were previously considered waste.
“Simply by asking questions and having an open mind, we are uncovering opportunities to repurpose what was traditionally considered waste and find ways to put it back into the manufacturing process and packaging,” said Gemmiti.
In the future he foresees more and more key players discovering ways to convert garbage into gold.