|▲ Coffee Cube / CEO Im Byeong-gul
A Hyundai Research Institute report showed that the coffee industry in South Korea ranked No.6 in size surpassing 7 trillion won (5.8Billion USD) last year. In other words, a Korean drinks average 353 cups of coffee a year.
The coffee fever put aside, the waste from the industry is massive with coffee grounds, 99.8% of the coffee bean after extraction, all goes waste.
Having brewed a thought on finding a way to reuse these massive amount of coffee grounds, Im Byeong-gul, CEO of Coffee Cube, succeeded turning them into eco-friendly products.
A report predicts that coffee grounds will surpass 150,000 tons in 2020 and 3 billion won was spent to dispose 130,000 tons of them in 2017. Im has been collecting the waste and is making into a variety of products from pencil cases to pencils, flowerpots, clays and bricks.
Coffee train is Im's brainchild that produces eco-friendly products by using coffee grounds. This innovative machine dries coffee waste and mixes them to make coffee powder. The powder then dough-mixed with water to be coffee clay and this clay is made into a desired product.
Back then all the making processes were done manually but thanks to this innovative coffee train machine, things have become easier and simpler. Im obtained a patent for this technique and 14 coffee trains are installed nationwide as of 2020.
Coffee pencil, coffee flowerpots, coffee bricks
Among many products Im has produced, coffee pencils are best seller. But coffee flowerpots are as popular as the pencils because the coffee waste naturally becomes fertilizer.
"In other words, coffee flowerpots melts onto the soil unlike the plastic pots which are hardly ever disposed unless burned to cause environmental pollution. Thanks to this excellent eco-friendliness, the coffee flowerpots are being sold in 124 Homplus stores nationwide at the moment."
Coffee bricks also naturally becomes fertilizer. Before then, they stand firmly as eco-friendly building materials which fills the space with delicate scent of coffee. They are also good for naturally adjusting humidity. Coffee bricks won the grand prize at the Innovative Eco Design of the Environment Ministry in 2018. Produced mainly by senior citizens, the initial 12,000 units of coffee bricks were all exported to Japan.
Working together for environment
Coffee cube is contributing greatly to creating jobs and many companies and organizations big or small join hands with Im to create better and cleaner environment by using the advantages of coffee waste.
Some of the partners to name are: Hyundai Steel, Korea Reproductivity Center, Korea Energy, Homeplus, Korea Green Foundation, Incheon Metropolitan City, Korea Labor Force Development Institute for the aged, and Korea Employment Agency for the Disabled.
Those who are interested in recycling of coffee grounds, get more info at www.coffeeclay.com
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