Can coffee grounds be put in garbage disposal? (11 reuses)

This article will explain if coffee grounds can be put in garbage disposal. Also, details will be provided on related aspects as well that include:

  • Are coffee grounds natural and biodegradable?
  • Can you compost coffee grounds?
  • How should coffee grounds be disposed of?
  • How can coffee grounds be reused?
  • FAQs

Can coffee grounds be put in garbage disposal?

Coffee grounds are biodegradable because they are the waste produced from the brewing of coffee. Coffee grounds may degrade in 3-6 months. 

However, coffee grounds may be reused in a variety of ingenious ways that can be much better than the disposal of coffee grounds. These include use for home care and uses as skin care products. 

As regards disposal, coffee grounds can be disposed of in blue-coloured bins as those are intended for biodegradable and compostable waste. 

Are coffee grounds natural and biodegradable?

The question regarding the correct disposal methods relies on a number of parameters. One of them is the biodegradation prospects of coffee grounds. 

Biodegradation may be introduced as the degradation that is brought about by bio. Bio means life. By life, microbes such as bacteria, fungi, algae, and protozoa are referred to. 

By definition, biodegradation is the breakdown of waste into simpler substances by the action of microbes so that waste may not accumulate and return back to nature’s system. 

However, not everything that is produced and used can be broken down by microbes. This is because microbes are living creatures that rely on only materials that they can use as food. 

Most of the synthetic materials are made from the derivatives of fossil fuels. These materials have no nutritional content and therefore, are not degraded by the microbes. Such materials are called non-biodegradable waste. 

Examples of this kind of waste include synthetic plastics, synthetic polymers, synthetic fibres et cetera. Such waste may remain in the environment for many hundred years. For example, PET may remain in landfills for more than 500 years. 

As regards our topic, the material in discussion is coffee grounds. As it may be guessed, coffee grounds are the byproducts of the brewing process of coffee. Since coffee is made from natural, plant-based materials, coffee grounds are also considered natural and plant-based. 

Materials such as coffee grounds are categorised in the category of biodegradable waste. Such waste may degrade readily and would not cause any significant damage to the environment given that the principles and practices of sustainability are kept intact and adhered to. 

Based on it, it can be concluded that coffee grounds are indeed biodegradable. As regards the degradation time, coffee grounds may degrade or decompose in about three to six months. 

Can you compost coffee grounds?

This is an important question because composting is regarded as quite advantageous to both the environment and the life it supports. 

The main reason behind it is that the end result of composting which is termed compost can be used as a natural fertiliser. 

This can substitute synthetic fertilisers that are made of various chemicals and have the capacity to degrade and cause soil and water pollution. 

Another great advantage of composting is that the compost can be used to improve the organic content of the soil. This can lead to better fertility and increased water conservation. 

When the organic content of the soil is greater, its ability to retain water increases many times. As a result, it requires less water. The saved groundwater, which is an extremely limited resource, may be used for other purposes then. 

As regards the question, the possibility of composting coffee grounds depends on a number of factors. These factors can be termed the essential prerequisites of composting. If coffee grounds pass in all the required prerequisites then it can be concluded that coffee grounds can be composted. 

This is because compost is an important product and therefore it is essential to ensure that it is not harmful in any way. If this does not happen, then it will automatically imply that the compost will have the capacity to do more harm than good. 

Now, reclining back to the conditions. These are: 

  • Coffee grounds must be non-toxic
  • Coffee grounds must be natural
  • Coffee grounds must be biodegradable 
  • Coffee grounds must organic in nature 
  • Coffee grounds must be inert to the natural order 

As coffee grounds can be regarded as food waste, it is possible to compost coffee grounds. This will offer the following advantages to the people and the environment: 

  • Increase in the water retention ability of the soil 
  • Promotion of plant and crops growth 
  • Economical benefits 
  • Conservation of water
  • Increase in organic content of the soil
  • Improvement in soil fertility

How should coffee grounds be disposed of?

Safe and sustainable disposal methods are the bridge between the consumption and end-of-cycle impacts of any consumer products. 

If a consumer product is considered eco-friendly (let us say that it is natural and biodegradable) but is disposed of inaptly (let us say along with non-biodegradable waste), that material will still be harmful to the environment. 

An example can be drywall mud. Drywall mud is biodegradable but its degradation results in fumes of hydrogen sulphide and sulphide dioxide. If drywall mud is not disposed of in a controlled facility, these fumes will cause havoc and harm to the people and the planet. 

Subsequently, if a product is considered non-eco-friendly but still disposed of correctly, it still can be eco-friendly if only for an ephemeral period of time. 

Coffee grounds can be disposed of correctly by actually knowing in which dustbins can coffee grounds be discarded.  As it stands out, there are three types of dustbins that are there. These are:

  • Green-coloured dustbins
  • Blue-coloured dustbins
  • Red-coloured dustbins 

We all know that red is the colour of danger. Red-coloured dustbins are reserved for hazardous waste such as chemical waste or waste from hospitals. You must certainly not use red-coloured dustbins to throw containers. However, if you have doubts that your container is contaminated in any way then you can go for this option. 

Green dustbins are used for biodegradable waste whereas blue dustbins are used for non-biodegradable waste. If we consider our case, then the baking paper is both biodegradable and recyclable. 

It, now, depends on the consumer’s choice of the dustbin. Both the process of recycling and biodegradation are eco-friendly. However, recycling is better because it leads to zero waste generation along with other benefits covered. 

More than recycling, consumers are also aptly encouraged to compost the coffee grounds whenever possible because composting offers a number of benefits which are great for our environment. The most significant ones include use as natural fertilisers and water conservation prospects.

How can coffee grounds be reused? (11 reuses)

We have discussed the biodegradability and composting possibilities of coffee grounds. However, these processes, regardless of how eco-friendly they are, would still require some amount of energy and processing. 

This would lead to waste production and a carbon footprint. The point here is that regardless of the eco-friendly aspect of any process, there are sure to be environmental repercussions, be they significant or non-significant. 

However, there are some simple options that are not energy-consumptive at all. These processes require smart thinking and an innovative approach. One of them is the reusing of coffee grounds. 

While recycling may also be regarded as the reusing of coffee grounds, the recycling process still requires some modifications and input. When a product is reused, it is not altered in any way. 

Let us now discuss some of the ways in which coffee grounds may be reused which will be in line with the environmental and economic standpoints.  

  • Coffee grounds can be used as an insect repellant 
  • Coffee grounds can be used as a pest repellant
  • Coffee grounds can be used as a flea remover from pets
  • Coffee grounds can be used as a fragrant 
  • Coffee grounds can be used as a scrubbing material
  • Coffee grounds can be used to exfoliate your skin 
  • Coffee grounds can be used as a natural dye
  • Coffee grounds can be used to tender meat 
  • Coffee grounds can be used to treat under-eye circles
  • Coffee grounds can be used as a stimulator for hair growth 
  • Coffee grounds can be used to repair scratched furniture 

As it can be stanced, coffee grounds contain a lot of natural and useful ingredients that can be used for a wide variety of tasks and applications. These applications are both domestic and commercial. 

When coffee grounds are used in these ingenious ways, not only one is being considerate of his budget but the environment is also being saved from a number of detrimental impacts. 

Therefore, it is a win-win situation for all. No environment-economic tradeoff here. However, what is needed is the reuse mindset. Many people consider that by reusing they will compromise their status or class. Or perhaps they do not have time for that. 

However, the fact of the matter is that it all stems from the mindsets of people. As Rumi said, “Don’t look for me in a human shape, I am inside your looking.” 

This is also what the teaching and practices of Environmental Psychology preach. Perhaps the better implementation of the reuse mindset of coffee grounds may be achieved by adhering to the guidelines of the said discipline. 

Conclusion 

It is concluded that coffee grounds are biodegradable because they are the waste produced from the brewing of coffee. Coffee grounds may degrade in 3-6 months. 

However, coffee grounds may be reused in a variety of ingenious ways that can be much better than the disposal of coffee grounds. These include use for home care and uses as skin care products. 

As regards disposal, coffee grounds can be disposed of in blue-coloured bins as those are intended for biodegradable and compostable waste. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Can coffee grounds be put in garbage disposal?

What is the time required by coffee grounds to degrade?

Coffee grounds may degrade in between three and six months.

Can coffee grounds be recycled?

Coffee grounds may be recycled because they are natural and organic. This recycling may result in products such as biomass and biofuels.

References

  • McNutt, J. (2019). Spent coffee grounds: A review on current utilisation. Journal of industrial and engineering chemistry, 71, 78-88.
  • Saberian, M., Li, J., Donnoli, A., Bonderenko, E., Oliva, P., Gill, B., … & Siddique, R. (2021). Recycling of spent coffee grounds in construction materials: A review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 289, 125837.
  • Martinez-Saez, N., García, A. T., Pérez, I. D., Rebollo-Hernanz, M., Mesías, M., Morales, F. J., … & Del Castillo, M. D. (2017). Use of spent coffee grounds as food ingredient in bakery products. Food Chemistry, 216, 114-122.
  • Awasthi, M. K., Wong, J. W., Kumar, S., Awasthi, S. K., Wang, Q., Wang, M., … & Zhang, Z. (2018). Biodegradation of food waste using microbial cultures producing thermostable α-amylase and cellulase under different pH and temperature. Bioresource technology, 248, 160-170.
  • Healthline. 16 Creative Ways to Use Old Coffee Grounds. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/uses-for-coffee-grounds

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