Revive Eco: Closing the Loop on Coffee Shop Waste
Jun 06, 2019
This 2017 Top Ten Innovators awardee transforms used coffee grounds into natural oils.
Millions of people around the world start their day the same way – with a cup of coffee. In fact, in the United Kingdom alone, people drink 55 million cups of coffee each day, leading to over half a million tonnes of coffee grounds getting generated and wasted. Three young entrepreneurs decided to change that.
“My co-founder, Scott (Kennedy), and I worked in the hospitality sector during university, and saw first-hand how much coffee goes to waste on a daily basis,” said co-founder Fergus Moore. “Creating Revive Eco was our way of addressing the issue.”
Revive Eco takes used coffee grounds and transforms them into natural oils. They do this by collecting used coffee grounds from cafes, restaurants, and offices. These coffee grounds are then processed at Revive Eco’s plant in Scotland. The resulting oils provide local and sustainable alternatives to the likes of palm oil and can be used across various industries including the food and beverage, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries. The residual material left over after processing is then used as a natural soil conditioner, putting valuable nutrients back into the earth via an entirely zero waste process.
Moore says this zero-waste approach has always been at the heart of Revive Eco.
“We set up Revive with the vision of diverting all coffee grounds in Scotland from going to waste,” he said. “Circular business practices are our true north. It makes good business sense as well as being beneficial for the planet.”
Fergus and Scott developed their idea while studying together at the University of Strathclyde. Together they tried to kickstart this new business in between juggling demanding classwork and part-time jobs. This hard work paid off in January 2016 when they won Shell LiveWIRE UK’s Smarter Future Award. In 2017, they competed in Shell LiveWIRE’s Top Ten Innovators Competition, a global competition that highlights and rewards LiveWIRE businesses that demonstrate excellence in innovation. Revive Eco took home the runner up award and $10,000 in prize funding.
“Winning an accolade as prestigious as the Shell LiveWIRE Top Ten Innovators Awards has had a huge impact on the growth and development of Revive,” said Moore.
For instance, the Revive team used the award funding to travel to Germany and meet with representatives from a research institute. This meeting led to the creation of an industrial partnership that allowed them to develop their oil extraction technology. In addition, Revive Eco leveraged this existing award to secure an additional £330,000 GBP in further funding. The co-founders have since been able to quit their other jobs and focus full time on developing their business.
Moore said that being a young entrepreneur can be both extremely challenging and powerfully rewarding.
“Whether you have an idea that you think will change the world or simply that will help cover your student loan, an entrepreneur’s journey is filled with excitement and promise but also comes with its stresses and tribulations,” he said. “It certainly isn’t something to be taken lightly.”
However, despite the challenges, Moore says that watching your business start to succeed is a truly life-fulfilling feeling.
“If your dream doesn’t terrify you, it probably isn’t big enough,” Moore said. “The younger generation are often called out for having blindly naive dreams for their futures. Entrepreneurs have the chance to create that lifestyle for themselves. So, student entrepreneurs, take those ‘blindly naïve’ dreams and go out and make them a reality.”