Turning leftover coffee into homewares
Penelope Liersch, Miskolc, Hungary

Kinga Tamasi is a materials engineer and a lecturer at the University of Miskolc who bonded with her student Eszter Borsodi over a love of coffee. Together the pair have brought to life an idea that first crossed Kinga's mind a decade ago - saving leftover coffee grounds from landfill and making them into something new. Their test products include lampshades, candle holders and pendants for necklaces.

"If you check your household and the environment you can see a lot of waste, for example from the kitchen. The waste is basically plant-based or animal based waste and that was my first tool, how can I recycle this material? And it's cheap and available and that was the first step for my project," Kinga told CGTN.



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The pair have been working on the project for over a year around their day jobs and study commitments. They take the wet coffee grounds, dry them and sort them. They're then mixed with plant-based polymer to create a molten mixture that's fed into a 3D printer. Built up over a number of days, the printer creates a piece layer by layer that is made up of ten percent coffee grounds.

Eszter says coffee grounds were their first choice to use as a natural filler in the mixture. "Coffee grounds have many practical uses, for example you can use them as pest repeller, and they can absorb undesirable odours in the fridge for example. And they can also be used as an exfoliating agent in facial scrub. Even so, most people just throw it out and we offer a new alternative to reuse this," she said.


The coffee grounds are recycled into products such as this necklace./CGTN Europe

The coffee grounds are recycled into products such as this necklace./CGTN Europe

The pair began collecting their own coffee waste and soon moved on to collecting from family and friends. Now cafes and offices are also keeping their leftover grounds to be reused. Kinga and Eszter are also looking at other forms of kitchen waste, experimenting with using leftover eggshells and the stones from inside peaches.

They're always looking to improve their base mixture as well as the designs. "We're constantly improving the material and we always come up with new ideas about the use of this material. 3D printing has the opportunity to make really unique objects and we want to take advantage of that," said Eszter. For now, the focus is on homeware items, using the printer to create geometric shapes.

Kinga and Eszter's goal is to start selling their products online and create a full time business. Kinga is also on the lookout for other students to join the project and further expand it. They hope seeing items like theirs will encourage people to look at recycled products in a different way and invest in recycled pieces. 

This story is part of the CGTN Europe Trash or Treasure special - a look at the challenges, innovations and solutions around Europe's waste disposal.

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