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Upcycling coffee

Launch of global platform for coffee industry players to transform 40 million tonnes of biowaste into business
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Close-up of human hands holding old coffee grounds

The global coffee industry generates nearly 40 million tonnes of biowaste each year – that’s about seven times the weight of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Instead of going to the landfill, coffee by-products can be upcycled into a wide range of products, from cosmetics to health foods, bricks and packaging.

A circular economy for coffee

Based on these findings – featured in a new report by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the International Coffee Organization (ICO) and the Center for Circular Economy in Coffee (C4CEC) – the Center has announced a global call for membership of coffee sector stakeholders to use circular economy approaches to open up new income and job opportunities.

The goal is to gather producers, small businesses, traders, roasters and consumer-facing companies, especially in coffee-producing countries, to tap economic opportunities while addressing critical environmental concerns.

The platform is also open to research partners, civil society members, impact investors and international organisations.

The report, Making a Case for Circular Economy in the Coffee Sector: Insights from the Multi-Stakeholders Working Group on Circular Economy in Coffee, includes findings of a global survey of the ITC Coffee Guide Network’s Working Group on Circular Economy, involving the public and private sectors, academia and international organisations.

Lack of actionable knowledge, inadequate regulatory frameworks and low levels of both investment and public-private collaboration are the top cited challenges to implementing circular economy at scale.

‘Small businesses in coffee-producing countries have the most to benefit from the circular economy model, as it promotes bottom-up innovation and knowledge sharing, as well as sustainable and inclusive value chains, market access, and responsible business. We invite all coffee stakeholders to join this platform.’

ITC executive director

Sharing knowledge

The Center for Circular Economy in Coffee aims to address gaps by providing technical knowledge and establishing a platform for collaboration with a scientific approach.

The first pre-competitive platform for enhancing circular economy in the coffee sector is supported by a global network of partners: Giuseppe e Pericle Lavazza Foundation, Politecnico di Torino, the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), ICO and ITC.

To be included in the first membership round – and gain access to a global network and circular solutions – those interested can apply online by 31 May.

‘Our planet has been crying out for help for many years. We must look for solutions to environmental and economic challenges to provide a better future for the next generations. The circular economy is an

excellent and innovative solution that can help farmers, governments, businesses and consumers work together to create better jobs and income, reduce pollution and fight climate change.

‘The Center for Circular Economy in Coffee was launched as a pre-competitive platform aiming to share experiences, lessons learned and knowledge. The International Coffee Organization is proud to be a founding member of the C4CEC, which aligns with our mission.’

ICO executive director

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