Recycling Coffee Grounds, a Cradle to Cradle System




Introduction: Recycling Coffee Grounds, a Cradle to Cradle System

About: Student Industrial design

Did you know that coffee grounds could be used in your compost?

Coffee grounds are an excellent garden helper, they can be directly applied on the
ground or used in compost.The grounds contain useful amounts of phosphorus,
potassium, minor amounts of calcium, magnesium, copper and other trace minerals,
carbohydrates and some sugars which makes them ideal for helping grow plants such as basil and other herbs.

Current situation: The coffee shops don't know what to do with their grounds and throw them away while the gardeners always have a need for good compost material.

The solution :
Coffee cycle : Creating a community system where everyone exchanges something useful for an other.
Once a week the coffee shops give their coffee grounds to the gardener who in return can give one of his harvested plants.
We created several product, instructables who will be needed to make the coffee cycle work.

How it works : 
- The gardener uses a modified bicycle to collect coffee grounds and distribute his or her herbs.
Instructable: Modified bicycle: bicycle panniers
Instructable: Modified bicycle: bicycle burlap sacks

- With the modified bicycle the gardener bikes from one restaurant to another.
  The restaurant will keep the coffee grounds in a container.
Instructable: Coffee container for restaurants and cafes

- The gardener returns to his / her (urban) garden to deposit the grounds in the compost or directly on the plants.

- The gardener harvests the plants by using the compost.

- The gardener creates a flowerpot made out of some of the recieved coffee grounds.
Instructable: Biodegradable flower pot out of coffee grounds

- The gardener fills the selfmade flowerpot with a harvested herb (by using the compost with the coffee ground).
This herb will then be returned to a restaurant or cafe. The restaurant or cafe can use the herbs in their meals, drinks (mint,basil).
Once the flower pot is empty, herb totally used. The owner can give the flowerpot to the collector who can pour it in the compost with the new collected coffee grounds.
This is the full cycle that can be repeated every week.

Gardening & Homesteading Contest

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Gardening & Homesteading Contest

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    6 years ago

    The system is pretty cool. Ive been working on the pots but they keep breaking apart. The outside drys & cracks but the inside is still moist. Any ideas?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    The re-use of coffee grounds is getting quite prevalent in NZ where I live - especially in permaculture. One thing that would be an interesting add-on is to look at the business dynamics of this. Most cafe owners are only too happy to get rid of their grounds for free. So there might be a missed commercial opportunity in selling the organic herbs - the cycle is still closed, but you could be selling the herbs to someone else. Like, for instance, putting the herbs in a display box at the cafe and selling them - with the cafe owner giving you a display space for the organic herbs in exchange for your valuable recycling service. This then provides a funding model for your garden, and for your recycling service.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, Yes the owners were happy to participate, and we don't sell the herbs we give them back to thank them. I think it is important to thank them even if they already are happy to participate whiteout receiving anything. And it is just a little part of the given ground that is used to make the flowerpot. When you garden you have always extra herbs,.. . The restaurants can use the herbs in the kitchen to create some meals, the rest of the none using grounds of the empty flowerpot can be given back to the person with the bicycle, so the circle is closed and it is again used in the compost. So everyone gets something useful. I don't think commercialising is necessary in this case.

    But I can tell them to give some extra herbs to sell them to interested customers... Who can give it back once the pot is empty.

    Thank you for your remark


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. I try to plant something in the pot with coffee grounds but I don't know whether the flower, vegetable, etc grows well or not even though they are mixed with earth.