Coffee from Berlin has a unique recycling signature • Recycling International

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Over 2 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide every day. The popularity of coffee to go has resulted in a sharp increase in waste. A young entrepreneur from Berlin has come up with a unique way to tackle this issue.

Around 600 billion paper and plastic cups are distributed at
restaurants, bars and coffee houses around
the globe each year,
acknowledges Julian Lechner, founder of Kaffeeform. One major brand alone, none
other than Starbucks, is said to be responsible for 6 billion cups annually.

After enjoying many cups of espesso while studying product design in Bolzano, Italy, Lechner felt determined that there must be another way to process the waste. The young man started collecting used coffee grounds from coffee shops and caterers in his own neighbourhood in Berlin, to try and convert the leftovers into brand-new cups.

The first experiment, was conducted in 2015 and proved successful after some tweaking. Lechner explains that the coffee waste alone could not withstand heat and pressure very well, so he combined it with natural glues and particles of wood from sustainable sources to produce a liquid that can be injection moulded to create durable, break-resistant cups.

What began as a small project has grown into a successful initiative
working with over 80 bars in Berlin.

‘You can put the cups in the dishwasher regularly, and the cups will survive a fall onto a hard surface too,’ Lechner adds. He is proud that Kaffeeform won the 2018 Red Dot Product Design Award in Germany.

The ‘all natural’ recycled coffee cups have received a lot of interest since then and are currently being shipped within the EU. Looking ahead, Lechner argues: ‘As the global coffee consumption is steadily growing, the coffee grounds that are basically waste, will be available en masse.’

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