Grounds to Grounds
The MBI Café is an environmentally conscious, student-run business that is operated by the Macklin Business Institute. As part of the MBI Café experience, students are encouraged to create innovative cafe initiatives. Based on its annual production of coffee-based products, the MBI Café has the capacity to recycle up 3.4 tons of used coffee grounds each year.
The Grounds to Grounds Project’s project goals are to:
First, reduce the amount of used coffee grounds being dumped into the landfill. This is achieved by recycling used grounds, which are a by-product of the café’s daily operation.
Second, Reduce the amount of CO2 and methane emissions into the environment. As the coffee grounds decompose in a landfill they omit harmful greenhouse gasses, by finding ways to repurpose the grounds, our cafe is helping to limit our carbon footprint.
Finally, our team works to educate individuals around our campus on ways to reuse the grounds. Since our used grounds are free, we make sure to keep our customers aware of how they can help us benefit our business and our ecosystem. This is achieved by educating them on how it can be used as natural fertilizers, instruction on how to create DIY face scrubs, and participating in college programs to educate our campus and local community.
Rockville, MD 20850
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), coffee grounds dumped into landfills produce methane gas, a greenhouse gas 25 times more harmful than CO2. After brewing coffee in the cafe, we package the grounds to be offered to the MC community for free. By repurposing coffee grounds, the Café aims to eliminate methane from its wastes, as well as reducing waste deposited in landfills. We measure our success by tracking the number of bags of grounds processed and distributed in our community. We use a daily log to record this information.
Our project has been successful in reducing the amount of grounds thrown away and educating our community on the different ways that the grounds could be repurposed. We use our social media platform to spread awareness about our efforts in reducing grounds waste and protecting the environment.
Coffee grounds are a byproduct of cafe operations, which means they aren't an expense. Our project has been successful due to the efforts of our cafe employees, program members, and those in our community who have taken a bag of grounds.
Some challenges that we face in this project include a transition of leadership, distributing all the coffee grounds, and equipment maintenance.
- The Macklin Business Program is a two-year honors program, which means there is a high turnover rate of students and educating them on the process of properly packaging grounds. To combat this issue, we have created a video training program to help teach incoming students.
- During months of slow operation and the Covid-19 shutdown, our ability to recycle 100 percent of our grounds is reduced. In response, we have begun planning new avenues of distributing coffee grounds. When the cafe reopens, we are still able to achieve our goal of preventing grounds from reaching the landfills.
- This project requires supplies, such as plastic bags, labels, and a sealing machine. Occasionally while packaging the grounds, the sealing machine breaks down, which makes it difficult to continue our project. To maintain a longer storage life, the grounds need to be packed in an airtight container. To ensure that we can continue with our project, we have purchased a backup sealing machine and educating our members on proper maintenance.