Local business that turns coffee waste into furniture, one of 11 NEA, Environment News & Top Stories award winners

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SINGAPORE – This local business collects soggy, used coffee grounds from cafes and hotels and turns them into wood-like panels that can be used to make furniture.

The A1 Environment company first removes contaminants such as coffee filters from the coffee by-product, then dries and treats the coffee grounds and mixes it with a binder so that it can be formed into fire retardant panels.

Since 2019, A1 Environment has been working with local carpenters and carpenters to make furniture and household items such as tables and shelves from the new material.

For giving new life to food waste, A1 Environment and 10 other companies received the first Food Resource Valorisation Awards on Wednesday, September 29.

The valuation of food resources refers to the conversion of food waste into products with higher added value. It is a preferred solution for reducing food waste compared to its transformation into compost or liquid nutrients.

The prizes were awarded by the National Environment Agency (AEN).

A1 Environment commercial director Loh Yen-Lyng said that by the end of next year, when the company ramps up its processes, it plans to launch a range of furniture, working with the carpenters . Items such as flower pots and corporate gifts will also be launched.

To date, the company has converted 650 tonnes of used coffee grounds into compost for local farms or waterproof and durable panels that are harder than plywood.

In addition to diverting coffee waste from landfills, coffee-based panels can become an alternative material to wood, meaning fewer trees would be felled, Ms. Loh noted.

A few years ago, A1 Environment wanted to extend its economic model and expand the use of used coffee grounds beyond its transformation into compost.

He worked with an expert from Nanyang Polytechnic to develop a proprietary formula to convert used coffee grounds into material for furniture.

Winning the award, A1 Environment Technical Director Mohamad Ismail Ibrahim said: “In nine years we have put a lot of effort into trying to reduce waste. We used to work with paper, plastics and other materials, but now we have moved on to coffee … and the feedback from furniture makers is encouraging.

“The carpenters and joiners said that the function and durability of the panels exceeded their expectations, which motivates us to produce the (coffee-based) panels on a larger scale. “

Coffee grounds (left) from over 700 cups of coffee were used to make the table. PHOTOS: ENVIRONMENT A1

Also by the end of next year, the company will start exploring ways to convert other food waste, such as tea leaves and coffee pods, into furniture and household items.

Another winner, KosmodeHealth, turns spent barley kernels into high-fiber, starch-free noodles that don’t cause blood sugar levels to rise after consumption.

The spent barley grains – a waste from the beer breweries and malt factories here – are dried and made into a fine powder of protein fibers which is formulated into noodles. KosmodeHealth claims that its noodles taste and texture similar to wheat noodles.


KosmodeHealth claims that its spent barley grain noodles taste and texture close to wheat noodles. PHOTOS: KOSMODEHEALTH

Called W0W noodles, each 200g packet retails online for $ 6.60.

KosmodeHealth is currently raising funds to build a pilot production facility so that it can turn 100kg of spent barley kernels into starch-free noodles every day.

The 11 winners were selected on the basis of the technologies they use, the value of their end products and the long-term viability of their businesses, among other criteria, the NEA said in a statement on Wednesday.

In Singapore, food waste is one of the main waste streams.


Water, malted barley and leftover bread are mashed together, as part of the beer brewing process. PHOTO: CRUST GROUP

Last year, food waste accounted for 11% of total waste generated. Of the 665 million kilograms of food thrown away, only 19% was recycled.

Speaking at the awards ceremony on Wednesday, Minister of State for Sustainability and Environment Amy Khor said, “More can and must be done to reduce the amount of food waste going to our homes. incineration plants because precious resources are wasted in their production. , distribution and disposal. “


Crust Group collects surplus bread from bakeries and uses it to make beer. PHOTO: CRUST GROUP

Another winner, Crust Group, concocts craft beer using unsold bread from bakeries as one of the raw materials in the brewing process.

Later this year, Crust will launch its fruit-based sparkling water line, made with the rinds and peels of fruits and vegetables. Fermentation and heat treatment are used to extract the aromas from the sparkling water.

In pursuit of Singapore’s zero waste vision, the NEA also announced Wednesday that four new research projects have received grants to explore ways to conserve the country’s landfill space.

In a project by Nanyang Technological University, researchers will work with outside companies to study the waste dumped in parts of the Semakau landfill.

The aim of the project is to find out if some buried material can be excavated and reused as building material, for example, to free up more space in Singapore’s only landfill.

The Semakau landfill is expected to be full by 2035. To avoid this, the country aims to reduce the amount of daily waste sent to the offshore island by 20% by 2026 and 30% by 2030.

The grants were awarded under NEA’s “Closing the Waste Loop” research and development (R&D) initiative, a $ 45 million program that has provided grants to 11 other projects since 2017.

Commenting on the new projects, the NEA said in a statement, “If these R&D projects are successful and then implemented, up to 100,000 tonnes per year, or nearly half of Singapore’s non-incinerable waste, is expected to be diverted from the Semakau landfill.


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