Grounds for Recycling brought together two closely linked communities (coffee and cycling) to collectively help tackle food waste. The campaign supported over 60 of Glasgow’s cycle-friendly coffee hangouts and local roasters to join forces and turn used coffee grounds into something better for the planet. ALL grounds were collected from venues who had signed up to take part in the campaign (by an e-cargo bike, no less!) and taken to Glasgow Botanic Gardens, where it is now being turned into soil improver and used directly throughout the park.
Why were we tackling leftover coffee grounds specifically?
Good question. Following the original Plate up for Glasgow campaign (that took place during COP26), venues told us that they found one particular food item the trickiest to tackle: used coffee grounds.
Businesses found coffee grounds are wet, heavy and difficult to dispose of. Coffee grounds can quickly fill food waste bins, and in some cases, used coffee grounds from smaller cafes do end up in landfill. This project is about providing a solution and supporting businesses to see the value in their waste.
In one year alone, Scotland generates around 40,000 tonnes of coffee grounds and as Glasgow’s love of coffee continues to grow, it’s proving crucial that the city finds circular ways to recycle and reuse coffee ground waste.
Projects like Grounds for Recycling support the development of community driven circular economy solutions, collecting unavoidable food waste (or by-products) and adding value to them locally. It is a great example of organisations coming together to design out waste.
Who’s behind Grounds for Recycling?
Fronted by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, through its Circular Glasgow initiative, and in partnership with Glasgow Life, Zero Waste Scotland and the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, Grounds for Recycling’s vision is to create a Glasgow movement that inspires and invites everyone to act against food and drink waste.
With customers increasingly calling on brands to minimise their environmental impact and provide more sustainable options, embracing the circular economy is a smart business decision as well as being better for the planet.
“The circular economy is the best tool we have to help us tackle our throwaway culture, live within the limits of our natural environment, and maintain a high quality of life. Reducing food waste and maximising the value of food and drink by-products like coffee grounds, are an essential part of this, as food and drink has such a high carbon footprint from its production, and food releases methane if sent to landfill.
"Zero Waste Scotland has supported businesses to find innovative circular solutions using coffee grounds – from using in beauty products to producing alternatives to palm oil. Grounds for Recycling is another exciting example of the circular economy in action, and it’s fantastic to be working in partnership with Glasgow Chamber of Commerce to attract even more businesses to join Scotland’s growing circular economy.”
Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland
"Grounds For Recycling is a great example of collaboration where organisations are coming together to design out waste. The campaign aims to support Glasgow’s organisations in their understanding of the circular economy, demonstrating its many business benefits, including savings, and generating new revenues. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Glasgow Life, 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships and Zero Waste Scotland alongside the 60 plus participating businesses to create this movement, drawing attention to opportunities around food waste for businesses and consumers alike with the focus here on used coffee grounds. Grounds for Recycling is in its first iteration but it also has the potential to be a concept which could be easily replicated in other cities dealing with tonnes of used coffee grinds. It’s another really practical example of Glasgow trailblazing showing how local collaboration can be so effective at raising awareness of the opportunities around a significant food waste stream on the back of a major global event and supporting the city’s net zero and circular ambitions."
Senior Director, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
Hosting the UCI Cycling World Championships gives us a great platform to continue our city’s sustainability journey, work with our hospitality businesses and pilot inspired projects such as Grounds for Recycling.
“This relatively simple idea to repurpose a waste stream is also something which could be easily replicated in cities around the country, who are also dealing with tonnes of spent coffee grounds ending up in food waste bins each year.”
Bailie Annette Christie,
Chair, Glasgow Life