Nothing like a cup of coffee in the morning to get rid of cobwebs. And if you live in Finland, you probably drink more of it than most.
Finns consume more java per capita than any other nation in the world, according to the International Coffee Organization. And with all these grains, there is a lot of waste.
Up to 14,380,600 tonnes each year, in fact.
This equates to 13% of Finland’s annual food waste, with only fruits and vegetables being thrown in the trash more often than coffee going down the drain.
So it should come as no surprise that a Finnish shoe company incorporates caffeine grounds into their products.
Helsinki-based shoe company Information created a waterproof sneaker made from coffee waste and recycled plastic bottles.
It is an attempt to reduce the environmental impact of used coffee grounds, which emits as much methane as ten million cars every year.
âWhen we started, we realized that only five percent of the world’s coffee waste was actually recycled,â said Rens co-founder and CEO Jesse Tran.
“Coffee waste is bio-waste, but it produces a lot of methane, which is about 32 times more powerful than CO2. What we’re doing here is just extending the life cycle.”
A global problem
As global demand for coffee is expected to double by 2050, coffee cultivation is becoming Harder and harder, with climate change affecting plantations around the world.
A recent study indicates that coffee growers in Colombia – the world’s third largest producer of Arabica beans – may encounter important environmental implications between the years 2042 and 2061.
Due to rising temperatures, areas of Colombia that are currently prime coffee growing sites may soon be too hot to these plants to survive.
Shrubs are incredibly sensitive to unpredictable weather conditions, which affect both the quantity and quality of beans that can be produced. This has a ripple effect on the 125 million people who depend on coffee production for their livelihoods.
Carry your waste
In short, a reduction in coffee waste in landfills could benefit the industry.
The world’s love for coffee is unlikely to wane, so it’s crucial that we find ways to recycle, renew and reuse its by-products. This could reduce the build-up of methane gas and decrease the contribution of coffee to rising global temperatures.
And if you also pull out a nice pair of sneakers, what’s not to love?
A pair of first-generation Rens ‘Original’ shoes contain 300 grams of coffee waste, the equivalent of 21 cups.
âAfter drinking the coffee and throwing away the coffee grounds, we mix it with recycled plastic granules made from used water bottles,â says Tran. âThen we create something called polyester coffee yarn. The majority of the upper part of our shoes is made from this material. “
After coming up with the idea in July 2017, the company launched a KickStarter campaign which raised more than â¬ 486,000 in just 24 hours. A follow-up campaign in August 2021 raised an additional â¬ 300,000 – enough to produce a second-generation version of the sneaker called the âNomadâ.
âIn the market, sustainable products are very popular. What we see as a problem is that these products are not designed for young people,â says co-founder and CTO Son Chu.
âThe way they sell the products is like, ‘Hey, use us or the planet is going to die. We don’t like this approach. We want to be a brand where we make products that are sustainable, but they’re cool, they have really cool functions, people can actually use them. “
In an effort to create a truly climate neutral product, Rens also claims to offset all emissions from the production, packaging and distribution of its products.
For now, sustainability comes at a high price – a pair of the company’s latest shoes costs $ 96.
But the early success of its coffee trainers prompted the company to explore new applications for its sustainable technology.
âWhatever product we make, we will apply the same formula, which comes from waste materials,â says Tran. âIt could be coffee waste again, or it could be something else. “
Whether it’s a pair of sneakers, a t-shirt, or a sweater, one thing is for sure: coffee waste is better in your closet than in the landfill.
Watch the video above to see the coffee trainers from Finland.