At bio-bean’s technology-leading 40,000 sq ft UK factory, waste coffee grounds produced by offices, transport hubs, coffee shops and coffee factories is recycled into advanced biofuels. This industrial scale process of gathering and manufacturing results in carbon neutral coffee logs that are locally produced alternatives to woody biomass briquettes. In addition, the logs burn hotter and for longer than wood.
Coffee Biofuel, bio-bean (Coffee waste United Kingdom, 2016)
Interview with Arthur Kay, CEO of bio-bean
bio-bean is a relatively new company. Could you tell us a little bit about your background(s) and how you got interested in the circular economy? How did your architecture training help?
Arthur Kay: As an architecture student at The Bartlett, UCL, I was set the task of designing a coffee shop and coffee factory. I realised that coffee was being wasted everywhere and set out to address the problem.
Could you describe your process of developing the business model and how you focussed on coffee and coffee drinking? How much money did you need to raise?
Arthur Kay: I knew that bio-bean had to operate at an industrial scale to be successful. I designed a business model that was both commercially and environmentally advantageous, both for waste coffee producers and biofuels consumers. To do this, we have built the world's first waste coffee recycling factory for which we have raised several million pounds through a combination of private investment and awards/grants.
(bio-bean recycles waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels and biochemicals)
How would you describe the different mindsets of Circular Thinking/Design for the CE versus traditional linear thinking for the linear economy?
Arthur Kay: Businesses that have CE design thinking baked into their process have the opportunity to reshape our collective futures.
What has been the most challenging part of the process? What one thing would make your project easier?
Arthur Kay: Scale. bio-bean works with coffee and waste management corporations, who simply don't have the ability to move rapidly.
You have been heavily featured in news media, from The Guardian, to the FT, Mashable and Wired. How have you managed that personally and commercially?
Arthur Kay: We recycle waste coffee into advanced biofuels, people understand the purpose and need to do that.
Arthur Kay: bio-bean will continue to increase its domestic capacity and expand internationally, whilst exploring other organic waste streams.