Academic journal article The Science Teacher

New Biorefinery Repurposes Coffee Grounds

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

New Biorefinery Repurposes Coffee Grounds

Article excerpt

With 1.3 billion tons of food trashed, dumped in landfills, and otherwise wasted around the world every year, scientists are lauding the successful laboratory testing of a new "biorefinery" designed to convert food waste into a key ingredient for making plastics, laundry detergents, and scores of other everyday products.

Their report on a project launched in cooperation with the Starbucks restaurant chain--seeking a use for spent coffee grounds and stale bakery goods--came in August during the 244th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, which featured almost 8,600 reports on new discoveries in science.

"Our new process addresses the food waste problem by turning Starbucks' trash into treasure--detergent ingredients and bio-plastics that can be incorporated into other useful products," said Carol S. K. Lin, PhD, who led the research team. "The strategy reduces the environmental burden of food waste, produces a potential income from this waste and is a sustainable solution."

Just as oil refineries convert petroleum into fuels and ingredients for hundreds of consumer products, biorefineries convert corn, sugar cane, and other plant-based material into a range of ingredients for bio-based fuels and other products. …

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