Q&A with ReVive

Written by Kajsa IngelssonOctober 10, 2019

Coffee.. Most people’s drug of choice. Yours truly loves a cup of dark brew in the morning (or anytime before 5 to be honest). But have you ever thought about the amount of coffee grounds being thrown away daily just to produce our cuppa joes? No? To be honest, me hmm not too much either.

But with food waste being one of the biggest drivers behind climate change (if it was a country it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses) we need to change the way we look at both our food and waste.

ReVive is a fresh and innovative company built on just that idea; that the leftovers from our black gold can be, well, almost as valuable as real gold.

Do you mind explaining what exactly it is that you do?

Revive is an innovative circular business enterprise, developing high-value natural products from used coffee grounds. We are on a mission to minimise waste, maximise the value we can create from waste and close the loop on coffee shop waste. Our operations model involves providing a unique waste recycling service which provides environmental and commercial benefits for every stakeholder.

We have now recycled over 50 tonnes to create a natural soil conditioner which we has been sold on bulk. We are currently developing an innovative new technology that allows us to create high value oils from the used coffee grounds that have uses in cosmetics, food & drink and textile industries. This will ensure that we are garnering maximum value from used coffee grounds and bringing positive environmental disruption to a plethora of industries.

We are driven to deliver maximum environmental and economic impact far and wide, and thus our vision is to internationalise our operations as soon as possible in order to achieve this. We are huge advocates of the circular economy and are passionate about changing mindsets towards how businesses and individuals view waste. We are striving to build a team which is as ambitious and driven to create change as we are, as we know a strong team with a dynamic culture and skillset is key to us achieving our vision. 

Tell us a bit about where the idea of revive came from?

My co-founder, Scott, and I were both studying business at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. We were also working part-time in the hospitality sector, pulling pints and serving coffee to help fund our studies. It was here that we both saw first-hand the amount of food being wasted on a daily basis. We set out to do something about it but quickly found that food waste in general is quite difficult to valorise other than through composting or anaerobic digestion. So, we started focusing on niche streams and decided to look at coffee grounds. We had seen numerous people coming into our work and asking for small bags of coffee grounds to take home to put on their garden or in their compost heap so we knew that they had to hold some kind of nutritional value. We started to look into what was held within the coffee grounds and found that they contained a whole host of high value oils and sugars that could had uses in various industries. Since then, we have been developing our technology to access these oils in the most cost effective and energy efficient manner possible.

How do you collect the used coffee grounds?

We went through a number of options for collecting the grounds from Scott and I going around Glasgow on our bikes, to having our own bin lorries. Currently we work with a resource management company based in Glasgow to carry out the collections on our behalf. This works best for us as they already have vans going the length and breadth of the country, so we aren’t adding additional vehicles to the roads. They also are far more well experience in logistics so they can make sure the collections routes as efficient as possible. In the long-term we may change this system, but it is the best fit for right now. 

What countries do you currently collecting in and do you have any plans on expanding?

We’re currently only collecting in Scotland, bringing in around a tonne a week at the moment. We are still very early stage, but we are planning to expand these collections far and wide across Scotland whilst also having our eyes set on international opportunities. We already have good links into a number of countries across Europe and the rest of the world. The further we can spread around the world, the more of an impact we can have and the more deforestation we can help to avoid. So please stay tuned as we’ll be looking to expand quickly!

What’s you top three tips on how to become a green eco warrior?

  • Stop and think – the key tip to become more environmentally friendly for me is as simple as taking a moment to think about the impact of your actions. It only takes a second to through a plastic bottle into the general waste. But if you just stop and think about the impact of that simple act; about the raw materials, the energy, the labour, the time, the money that has gone into making that bottle and about where it will now end up…that’s enough for anyone to start making positive changes in their behaviour.
  • Small changes make a big difference – We don’t all have to come up with our own sustainable business to have an impact on the environment. It’s also easy to think that you doing something as simple as using a disposable coffee cup won’t have an impact on the global environment. But that is just shifting the blame – “well everyone else does it so what difference can I make”. We need the whole of society to move away from this mindset. By simply moving away from disposable coffee cups, for example, the UK could save 30,000 tonnes of waste from being created. 
  • Your diet can have wider consequences than just your waistline – For most of my life I ate copious amounts of meat and dairy products. I never even considered the idea of vegetarianism or veganism. However, in the past few years as I’ve learned more about global sustainability and the environmental impact different industries are having, it’s become more and more difficult for me to justify eating meat and dairy. In 2018, The Guardian explained that “avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth”. If you’re looking for an easy way to be more environmentally conscious in your everyday life, then changing your diet is absolutely essential.