National Taiwan University and Nespresso launch coffee recycling collaboration

Coffee grounds will be used by NTU for research and to improve circular economy

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(Photo: Flickr)

(Photo: Flickr)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — National Taiwan University (NTU) is collaborating with a coffee industry giant on applying coffee by-products to agricultural production to provide scientific data for recycling research.

NTU and Swiss coffee brand Nespresso have launched the "Application of Coffee Grounds in Organic Agriculture" research project, according to CNA. Residual coffee grounds will be collected by industry actors and sent to the College of Bio-Resources and Agriculture at NTU, whose students will conduct agricultural research with the aim of enhancing the circular economy.

Nespresso said that it has been promoting a free recycling service since 2018. Throughout the country are over 1,300 post offices where anyone can return their used coffee capsules in the mail free of charge. A monthly average of 10 metric tons was recycled in 2018.

The aluminum collected from the capsules is melted down and made into various items. The coffee grounds will now be handed over to NTU as part of the collaboration.

The head of the Department of Agronomy at NTU, Professor Huu-Sheng Lur (盧虎生) told CNA that NTU has various spaces for agricultural production, including greenhouses, flat land, a mountain farm over 2,000 meters above sea level, and its own experimental forest in Xitou in Nantou County. He said that coffee grounds could be applied in these spaces for a variety of different production purposes.

This project will enable researchers to gather new scientific data on soil health and carbon emissions among other things. Coffee by-products can thus be used as a recycling material for agricultural production.

While there are many anecdotal claims about the use of spent coffee grounds in urban farms and gardens, whether applied to the soil directly or after composting, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has found that this practice greatly reduces plant growth.