It’s becoming more common for cafes to make ethical and environmental choices for their businesses and consumers. Creditable actions we’re seeing across Melbourne include cafes using fair-trade beans, organic milk, recyclable/compostable products, and, of course, reusable coffee cups. Now there’s a new initiative that will prevent those mountains of coffee grounds ending up in landfill. Reground takes the waste and repurposes it to benefit the environment and the community. Ninna Larson runs the small coffee-grounds waste-removal company. She works with local cafes, such as The Brunswick East Project and Loafer Bread to collect their valuable coffee waste. She then distributes the by-product to worthy end users.

“It's perfect in your compost, great for worms, as a mulch. You can even mix it in the soil to improve soil conditions and add nutrients,” says Larson. Currently, Reground supplies coffee grounds to CERES, West Brunswick Community Garden, Worm Lovers, Rushall Community Garden, Northcote Community Garden, a mushroom farmer and a bunch of home gardeners. The company can help a medium-sized cafe divert 3.4 tonnes of coffee grounds a year from landfill. That’s preventing 4.8 tonnes of methane gas being aimlessly released into the atmosphere.

Reground works as a subscription-based service. Cafes can sign up for collection times during work hours from Monday to Friday. The recipients of the coffee grounds are not charged. They are carefully selected by Reground to ensure the most benefit to the environment and community.
“During my own time in hospitality I learnt that a lot of people in the industry are very aware of sustainability, but they don’t have the means to actually create a positive change,” Larson says. In the short-term, her goal is to build awareness about Reground and its service, getting more cafes on board. She also wants to find more potential end users.

Larson says education will be the key to Reground’s success in the long-term. She wants her initiative to be made available to all specialty coffee shops, commercial cafes and coffee roasters as a sustainable alternative to mainstream general waste companies.

“I hope this will lay the groundwork for other industries to make similar decisions when facing the climate challenges of tomorrow.”