Railway station coffee recycling scheme receives national recognition at prestigious green business awards

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An innovative coffee recycling partnership between Network Rail and bio-bean, which has prevented an estimated 5,000 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere since April 2015, has received national recognition at the UK’s most prestigious green business awards.

Last week, the partnership – which is the largest initiative of its kind – received a Highly-Commended award for the Circular Economy Project of the Year at the BusinessGreen Leaders Awards, and was also shortlisted for recognition at the National Recycling Awards. Following its success, Network Rail is now rolling out the scheme beyond London to two more stations, bringing the total to eight across the UK.

The scheme sees Network Rail partner closely with bio-bean, which reprocesses the waste from coffee into Coffee Logs, a fuel for the home. The trial has already converted 790 tonnes of coffee – equivalent to the weight of more than 60 double decker buses[2] – from 38 million cups, providing enough fuel to heat 11,000 average sized houses for a year.[3]

The scheme, a first for the UK railway, involves close collaboration with station retailers such as Pret a Manger, Caffe Nero, and Starbucks as well as bio-bean, which turns the discarded grounds into advanced biofuels at its factory in Alconbury, Cambridgeshire.

The coffee-to-fuel initiative demonstrates the important role organisations such as Network Rail and bio-bean can play in helping to embed sustainability into daily business practice.

David Biggs, managing director, Network Rail Property, said: “Network Rail is one of the largest retail landlords in the country and we are proud to have been recognised for our sustainability credentials at the most prestigious green business awards in the UK. The commendation of our Coffee Recycling Scheme shows that by forging close relationships with pioneers like bio-bean and our station retailers, we are encouraging the adoption of greener energy initiatives across our stations and showing that transport hubs can play a key role in driving sustainable business practices.

“Caffeine has long been fuelling the daily commute but now Britain’s much-loved morning coffee could quite literally be fuelling the nation thanks to our Coffee Recycling Scheme with bio-bean.”

Tom Bage, head of communications and marketing, bio-bean, said: “bio-bean and Network Rail’s partnership is achieving great things. By recycling coffee, we tackle climate change, save businesses money and create carbon neutral fuels like Coffee Logs, which are already heating Britain’s homes in a greener and more cost-effective way.

“bio-bean is looking forward to expanding our work with Network Rail further so we can get even more households powered by coffee.”

Network Rail’s Coffee Recycling Scheme was initially trialled at six stations in London in April 2015. This is now expanding to Reading and Bristol Temple Meads, with a further rollout of the scheme at all of Network Rail’s 17 managed stations across the UK expected to be complete by the end of the year.