Nobody wants stale old muffins and the coffee ground leavings at day’s end, but instead of just dumping that stuff in a landfill, Starbucks says it’s trying out a new recycling process that would turn said items into bio-plastics and laundry detergent. Wiping up those carbon footprints is always a good thing.
The team of scientists at the City University of Hong Kong is working on a food “biorefinery” that changes food waste into things we can actually use, instead of contributing to the world’s garbage problem, reports the New York daily News.
Biorefineries are like their oil counterparts, in that they convert one thing to make it an entirely different product for consumers. Some critics say using raw food sources in this system would drive up the price of food and make it more scarce. However, if you’re simply recycling old food that nobody is going to eat anyway, that argument doesn’t hold.
Here’s how it goes down in the biorefinery process: The old food is mixed with a fungi that works to break down the carbohydrates into simple sugars. That mixture is then fermented in a vat with bacteria that turn the sugars into succinic acid, which is used in many consumer products from plastic to laundry detergent.
It sounds like magic, to us. And if it cleans clothing as well as non-biorefined detergent, even better.
Starbucks turns coffee grinds and old muffins into laundry detergent [New York Daily News]