United KingdomUnited Kingdom
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

bio-bean is an innovative green energy company with a patented process to turn waste coffee grounds into biomass pellets and biodiesel. London produces over 200,000 tonnes of waste coffee annually and bio-bean looks to tap into this resource, to offset London’s growing energy demand.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

bio-bean was founded in response to two global concerns: Responsible waste disposal: approximately 583T of waste coffee grounds are produced daily in London. The majority of this waste currently ends up in landfill sites where its degradation releases greenhouse gases. Clean energy production: our biofuel products are carbon neutral: their organic carbon is of photosynthetic origin so its release does not contribute to greenhouse gas levels

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

bio-bean will reduce the amount of food waste produced by recycling spent coffee grounds. 1. Collect coffee waste from coffee shops, roasting facilities, and instant coffee producers in and around London. 2. Process this waste into two products: biodiesel, and biomass pellets, using patented technology. bio-bean’s real innovation is the combination of these two disparate pieces of technology within a business framework. Although bio-bean is still in the start-up stage, we will provide both a service and a product: waste collection and biofuel production. As bio-bean will operate in London, the effects of reduced waste and cleaner fuel will be felt on a local scale, providing both increased CSR and economic benefits to London businesses
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

When drinking a coffee, you don’t normally think about what happens to the waste produced in making it. But what if you did? Waste coffee mostly end up in landfill sites where they degrade, releasing greenhouse gases. If the waste were recycled by bio-bean, its fate is altered. Instead of going to landfill, it is collected and processed into biofuel. These biofuels will replace some of the quota currently covered by fossil fuels, reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions. There is also a more direct effect for you: we are reducing waste disposal costs for coffee companies, enabling them to price their products more competitively. So you pay less, for an eco-friendly coffee. We will create a greener London, and provide new ‘green jobs’.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Service: there is no large-scale use for waste coffee grounds; as a result there are no competitors for this feedstock. We will therefore be first to collect and process this material on a commercial scale. Product: although there are several biofuel producers in the UK (e.g. Uptown Oil), the UK biofuel market is rapidly expanding. Future competitors: although we are first-to-market, competitors will arise in the future. We will maintain access to our feedstock through several USPs, including patented technology and creating strong relationships with waste producers and biofuel consumers.
About You
bio-bean Limited
About You
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Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name

bio-bean Limited

Organization Country


Country where this project is creating social impact


How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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Your Solution
Founding Story: Share a story about the “Aha!” moment that led you to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

The concept behind bio-bean was devised by Arthur Kay. Arthur studied Architecture at UCL and came up with the idea whilst designing a coffee shop and roasting plant. Investigating how a building could generate power from its own waste, he came across two technologies, which, if applied within a business framework could become an environmentally and commercially viable enterprise: thus bio-bean was born.

Arthur went on to win the Mayor’s Low Carbon Prize in 2012, with this endorsement and funding took the business forward. He teamed up with Ben Harriman, whom he met whilst locked on a bus in Istanbul. Together, they have developed bio-bean from the seed of an idea into an environmentally and economically productive enterprise.

Select Sector(s): To which of Unilever's categories of sustainability does your solution apply?

Greenhouse Gases, Waste, Supply Chain Micro-entrepreneurs.

Measurable Impact
Audience: Who have you identified as your customers/recipients and why? How will you get your solution to them or engage them in your initiative?

Waste collection: coffee companies in the UK collectively pay £53.2mn/yr to dispose of their coffee waste. We will pay them for their waste, providing them with economic and environmental (CSR) incentives.

Biofuel Sales (biomass pellets and biodiesel): bio-bean has already secured large sales with four institutions who have agreed to buy everything we can produce. The UK market for biofuels is rapidly growing, and expected to double in size in the next three years (MarketLine).

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date and expected impact in the future?

bio-bean is still in the ‘start-up stage’, but the projected impact falls into 3 main categories.

1. Environmental: we will produce two renewable products, both of which are carbon neutral and cleaner, renewable alternatives to conventional fuels. By 2016, we will have prevented 111k T Methane, and 908k T Co2 entering the atmosphere, as well as diverting 316,000 tonnes of coffee waste from landfill.

2. Economic: we will save the UK coffee industry tens of millions of pounds in waste disposal costs, including removing charges of £72/T landfill tax and £60/T for incineration.

3. Social: by 2016, bio-bean will have created 65 new ‘green jobs’ for UK workers. We will also impact on government policies: by 2020, 7% of transport fuel must be from biofuel (currently 5%). London buses are aiming to use 20% biofuel by 2015: we will be able to contribute to achieving this target.

Growth, Finance & Leadership
Scaling the Solution: How do you intend to scale your activities over the next two years (e.g., reach new markets, diversify solutions, etc.)? What will make this possible?

1. Short term: Scale domestically in the UK. Long term: expand globally throughout EU and USA
2. 20 tonne pelleting trial Nov 2013, funded by prize money
2. Secure funding in Jan 2014
3. Finalise sales contracts: Dec 2013
4. Secure Feedstock contract target weights (50 tonnes) by Feb 2014
5. Begin pellet production: Mar 2014
6. Begin oil extraction: Jun 2015

The oil extraction machinery is more expensive than pelleting machinery; as a lean startup, we will use internally generated funds for its purchase, thereby reducing CapEx and peak Cash requirements. WIth this machinery (est. June 2015), we will subcontract the biodiesel production to an experienced biodiesel processing company: in principal, Pure Fuels Ltd.

Financial Sustainability: What is your business model to ensure financial sustainability?

London will be the site for our fully functioning prototype; we will then expand to other major cities throughout Europe, facilitated by our flexible business plan and exclusive EU access to the technology. The financial resources for this expansion will come from internal revenue generation, through biofuel and biomass pellet sales. The prices of these products are expected to rise in the coming years due to the rapidly expanding biofuels market

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Arthur has also founded a non-profit organization: Students for Happiness: they look to put well-being at the forefront of discourse among young people. They have an active social media presence, with over 1m hits on their website, and audiences at their regular events frequently exceeded 400 people.

Arthur also currently hold positions on a number of boards associated with Social Enterprise and Green Entrepreneurship.