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Utilizing biochar for a more sustainable coffee industry


March 2021

The coffee industry faces major challenges in the coming decades due to water scarcity and climate change. In consideration of this emerging uncertainty, it is important for coffee producers to secure their business models for the long term and in doing so prepare for a sustainable future. Carbo Control has worked together with producers to develop solutions that foster sustainability within the coffee industry. To make environmentally friendly coffee production a reality, CarboControl plans to integrate its technology into the production site of a well-known coffee manufacturer. Experience has shown that given the industry’s specific circumstances, there are a number of ways in which the CarboControl approach can have a positive impact on production, the environment and the company’s carbon footprint.

Harvesting and production generate residues that can be processed into plant and activated charcoal. Instead of selling it, the material can be used right away, closing energy and nutrient cycles on site. In the soil, the water storage capacity of the charcoal counteracts the ever-increasing water shortage on the plantations, while adding value to the composting process by preventing the leeching of nutrients. The specially produced plant carbon enables regenerative coffee cultivation without additional mineral fertiliser, the acquisition costs and emissions of which are eliminated in one fell swoop. With higher nutrient and water content, the fertility of the soil increases, as does its resilience to pests. The Charcoal also prevents emissions caused by the usual rotting or burning of raw materials.

High demand for process water in coffee production and the resulting wastewater can have a negative impact if fed into the regional water cycle. CarboControl offers the possibility to clean the waste water by means of its own produced carbon in order to not only reduce environmental impacts, but also to recover important nutrients in the water that would otherwise be lost.
The thermal energy generated during pyrolysis enables the energy-intensive coffee processing industry to achieve security of energy supply and savings on fossil fuels. Reductions of emissions and waste generate sufficient carbon credits, enabling circular and cost-efficient solutions.