Canadian Packaging

Recycled coffee on the road

Coffee grounds are being recycled in Australia to create sustainable road material.

May 16, 2016   by Canadian Packaging staff

Researchers at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia are using used coffee grounds from the campus as part of a recipe to create a sustainable road construction material.

The research team, led by Professor Arul Arulrajah who heads up the university’s Centre for Sustainable Infrastructure—his works looks at how recycled materials can be repurposed to provide road construction—move around the campus searching out coffee grounds from the cafes and bake them in an oven at 50° C (122° F) to dry it.

Lumps are filtered out before mixing it with slag—steel waste—at a seven to three ratio.

After a liquid alkaline solution binds it together, the mixture is compressed into cylindrical blocks—strong enough to be used as a subgrade material that sits beneath the road surface.


The coffee industry has come under some environmental pressure, with some researchers looking to utilize coffee grounds as a biofuel for cars or even heating buildings. Within the packaging industry, it is even being looked at as a basis to construct robotic grippers.

For Arulrajah, he estimates that if the coffee grounds from all of the cafes in Melbourne could be used with his research group’s procedure, some five kilometers (3.1 miles) of road subgrade material could be produced annually, which would reduce landfill and demand for virgin quarry material.

It’s not a lot of road, but is a lot of used coffee grounds.

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