One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Bio-Plastic

Yesterday I wrote about biofuel (which involves the conversion of raw organic materials into fuel) and how it can potentially burden the world’s crop supply. Today, I read about a process that utilizes organic materials at the other end of their lifecycle. Starbucks Hong Kong will be teaming up with The Climate Group and City University of Hong Kong to utilize the store’s food waste. Through a new biorefinery process, spent coffee grounds and food waste can be converted into bio-plastics and a key ingredient used in detergents.

An estimated 1.3 billion tons of food waste is sent to landfills worldwide each year. Refining only the food waste from Starbucks Hong Kong would remove 5,000 tons of this food waste from landfills, composts, and incinerators.

The way I see it, this project provides a number of benefits:

  1. We reduce the amount of waste filling up landfills.
  2. We reduced pollutants entering the air after waste is incinerated.
  3. Useful resources are created from organic materials without pressuring the world’s food prices and supply.
  4. These resources provide a source of previously untapped income.

Basically, this process can lessen the strain placed on the environment by food waste while simultaneously generating a sustainable new revenue stream. Seems like a classic win-win situation to me! Wouldn’t you agree?

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