According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, by 2010 worldwide coffee drinkers will drink almost 7 million tonnes of it every year. This means a heck of a lot of spent grounds to dispose of somewhere. Rather than throw the nitrogen-rich material (and acid-rich!) – coffee grounds have a carbon-nitrogen (C-N) ratio of 20-1 – into landfills, global chain Starbucks has found a greener solution by giving it away to consumers with gardens.
Starbucks’s Grounds for Your Garden program actually began as a grassroots initiative back in 1995. After growing steadily for almost a decade, it was officially launched in 2003, offering up free spent coffee grounds to North American customers year-round on a first come, first serve basis. Grounds are packaged in reused coffee bags and sealed with simple directions for using them in the garden or compost pile, where they can help improve soil quality.
“Coffee grounds are a valuable source of nutrition for the garden,” explains Ben Packard, director of environmental affairs for Starbucks. “Reusing coffee grounds in the garden is a great alternative to disposing this rich resource from our stores. It’s a win for gardeners and a win for Starbucks.”