Converting coffee waste into high value, natural oils.
Pitch us on your solution
Currently 500,000 tonnes of coffee grounds are generated each year in the UK, with the vast majority ending up in landfill. Revive collects these coffee grounds and converts them into a range of high value, natural oils which provide a sustainable alternative to the likes of palm oil. Palm oil production is one of the key contributors to global carbon emissions, due to the huge amounts of deforestation taking place to produce palm oil. Through our innovative and environmentally efficient process, we can extract the natural oils from the coffee grounds, providing the likes of the cosmetics and food and drink industry with sustainably and locally-sourced materials. We aim to scale our business quickly in order to maximise our impact, and will look to license our technology in order to grow into cities across the world, and disrupt industries on a global scale.
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What is the problem you are solving?
We are tackling two clear global issues; the amount of coffee grounds being sent to landfill, and the unsustainability of ingredients used in the likes of the cosmetics and food and drinks industries. Over 500,000 tonnes of coffee grounds are created each year in the UK alone, with the vast majority still ending up in landfill. This is not only a catastrophic waste of natural resources, but also a huge contributor to carbon emissions, with this coffee producing over 3 million tonnes of emissions when it ends up in landfill.
Secondly, our products are tackling the problem of the of the unsustainable materials used to make cosmetic and food and drink products. Our oils offer a sustainable and locally-sourced alternative to the likes of palm oil, meaning we can have a huge impact of transportation of materials, and also the deforestation associated with the production of the likes of palm oil. Currently 6 million tonnes of palm oil alone is imported into the UK annually, if we could displace even 1% of this with our sustainably produced oils, we could reduce carbon emissions by around 1bn tonnes, and saves dozens of hectares of land from deforestation.
Who are you serving?
We are striving to improve the lives of everyone through our service to divert waste from landfill, and also through our impactful products. We work directly with clients to ensure that we can measure and report the impact them working with us is having. By involving coffee waste producers in our process from the outset, we have been able to build a collection and logistics model that is tailored to their exact requirements. Consumer driven pressure has lead to the industry looking for sustainable solutions for their waste streams, and our offering has provided them with an effective solution.
We are also working closely with cosmetic manufacturers who have been involved in our product development, and ensures that we are extracting and separating oils which are in high demand. Through working with them, we have been able to identify exactly what their requirements are, and build that into our development plans to ensure we are able to provide the perfect solution to them. By involving end users in our development, we have been able to gain an incredible insight into their needs which has given us a fantastic opportunity to grow in parallel with them.
What is your solution?
Our coffee grounds collection service is outsourced to a resource management, meaning we have been able to incorporate the coffee collections into existing collection routes, ensuring there is no additional transport required. Our coffee collection service also sees clients making a saving on their overall waste costs. We also provide clients with monthly impact reports, where we outline all key data, including number of bins collected, average weights and total weight of coffee grounds collected. This ensures clients have a tangible way of measuring their impact by working with us, and also enables them to communicate their impact to their customers. Our onboarding process is extremely streamlined, borne out of our experience working in hospitality, we know only too well that time and space is precious. Thus we have been able to tailor our onboarding and logistic set-up processes to be as efficient as possible.
The core value proposition within our business lies in our processing technology. Traditional oil extraction methods often use synthetic solvents, however our innovative process only requires water and heat as an input, meaning it is as environmentally efficient as possible. We use an advanced superheated steam process in order to extract the natural oils in the most effective method possible. From this process, we create a chemical soup, which we then further separate down into individual fractions. Once purified, these individual fractions are our end product, which will be sold into industry as ingredients for their product creation. The core industry we are initially focusing on is cosmetics, however we also have several exciting opportunities in the food and drink industry and potential valuable applications in pharmaceuticals.
This September we will launch our first demonstration unit where we will process 5kg of coffee grounds per hour, and have a range of potential customers lined up to trial our oil extracts as part of their product blends. These cosmetic manufacturers are all actively seeking more sustainably sourced ingredients to use in their products, and we are able to provide a solution for them.
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Where is your solution team headquartered?Glasgow, UK
Our solution's stage of development:
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New business model or process
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
Revive encompasses two key areas of innovation; approach and processing technology. Firstly, our innovative approach sees us introducing a model which garners value from a waste stream that was previously sent to landfill. The nature of our new approach sees us working in partnership with coffee waste producers, but also directly with resource management companies, which sets us apart from competition as we have full involvement in the on-boarding of new clients and the collection process thereafter. We also provide monthly impact reports to clients, something which has never been provided to any of the clients we currently work with.
Our processing technology is also at the cutting edge of innovation, and is very much the core value proposition of the company. The only inputs required for our oil extraction process are heat and water, meaning it is as environmentally friendly as possible. There is no requirement for synthetic solvents for our oil extraction process, which are often required for traditional methods of extraction. Our process is also built to run 24/7, ensuring process efficiency is kept to an absolute maximum and energy consumption is kept to a minimum by eliminating the need of the heating up and cooling down phases present within batch processing. Our process is also zero waste, as once we have extracted the natural oils from the coffee, we are still left with a nutrient rich material which is used as a natural compost, and ensures we extract the maximum possible value from coffee grounds.
Describe the core technology that your solution utilizes.
Our processing technology encompasses both a mix of manufacturing and software technologies. Our manufacturing process is based upon an advanced distillation process which enables us to extract high volumes of natural oils from the coffee grounds in the most efficient fashion possible. Our processing technology has gone through many phases of R&D before getting to the point where we are ready to launch our first demonstration unit, processing 5kg of coffee grounds per hour.
We have also developed an adjacent software which enables our process to be controlled remotely, as well as detecting any processing issues which would not be visible to the eye. This also ensures our process can be monitored 24 hours per day, without needing high numbers of staff physically overseeing the process.
The entirety of our business model relies heavily on our processing technology, as it is this process that enables us to extract the maximum value from the used coffee grounds. The process itself forms the core of our business, as it is here that we can generate the impact and the revenue that will see our business become sustainable and scalable. Our goal is to licence our processing technology in order to scale quickly and maximise our impact monumentally as quickly as possible.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?
The overarching mission of Revive has always been to extract maximum value from waste streams and create products which can transform existing industries and processes. It has been clear to us from day one that the coffee industry has been actively seeking more sustainable waste solutions. They were not happy with their coffee grounds ending up in landfill. Their mindsets had already started to shift, and we were able to offer them a solution. We are collecting over 1 tonne of coffee grounds per month, with many more exciting collections opportunities in the pipeline which we hope to be able to service over the coming months once our processing capacity increases. We currently have a range of clients lined up to begin collections including coffee chains and airports, which will take our collections to over 8 tonnes per month. This clearly illustrates to us that our solution is being extremely well received within the coffee industry, and demand continues to increase.
Regarding our outputs from the process, we have had huge demand from a range of potential end users, from handmade soap producers right through to international conglomerates. We currently have a number of large scale cosmetic manufacturers lined up to trial our different oils as part of their formulations. They have all referred to the fact that the cosmetics industry is seeking ingredients which are sourced locally, sustainably and from waste streams. It has been clear that our solution will absolutely address problems faced in these types of industries.
Select the key characteristics of the population your solution serves.
How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?
The nature of our business being B2B means it is only really possible to track the number of businesses that we serve with our solution. We know that indirectly, working with these companies, the number of people’s lives we can impact could be 100x that of the companies we work with. We are currently serving 15 customers, and expect to be serving 90 within the next year. We are very confident in our ability to achieve this quick growth due to the huge demand and interest we are currently seeing. Within 5 years, we expect to be serving in excess of 2,000 customers, including planning to be operating in around 10 countries.
While this is just the direct impact we know we can have on our customers, we know that the impact will be much further reaching. Diverting coffee grounds from landfill can essentially impact everyone, as well be reducing carbon emissions by over 20,000 tonnes within 5 years. In terms of our outputs, our oils will be used a huge plethora of products, from toothpaste to moisturiser to hair care, meaning our indirect impact will be monumental. Within the next few years, huge amounts of people will be using products with our oils in them all across the global.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
Over the next 12 months, we will have completed our demonstration oil extraction phase, and our key goal here is to have raised the funding and resources required to scale up to our first commercial scale processing unit. This will see our throughput growing from 5kg per hour, to 200kg per hour, equating to around 4,000 tonnes of coffee grounds being diverted from landfill every year. This will enable us to reduce carbon emissions by over 20,000 tonnes, as well as produce over 400 tonnes of natural oils, in turn protecting 100 acres of land from deforestation.
Within 5 years, we aim to create dozens of jobs across Scotland and internationally as we expand our business. We aim to have our processing technology operating in cities across the world, garnering value from used coffee grounds to deliver sustainable alternatives to the materials used in cosmetics, food and drink, and pharmaceuticals. Our strategy to scale internationally is to licence our processing technology, ensuring that the capital intensity of our growth is kept as low as possible.
Over the next 5 years we also aim to have applied our processing technology to additional waste streams. We will start with brewery and distillery waste as we already have interest from these industries. Our goal is to offer circular solutions to industries across the board, and extract maximum value from their waste streams, which we can then use to disrupt other industries by giving them sustainable alternatives to what they currently use.
What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?
One of our key barriers moving forward will be funding, given the high level of capital investment we require. While investors are becoming more open to investing in value-driven brands, there still isn’t as much as we would like. There will also be the technical challenge of scaling up a new technology to industrial scales. While we have run the process on a lab scale, we understand that scaling it up will throw out all new challenges. Thirdly, there is another company in London that is recycling coffee grounds. They create different products, but we are still aware that they have raised large amounts of investment so could begin to look at the oils held within coffee in the future.
Another barrier we may face is around licensing our process. While licensing will allow us to scale quickly, it brings with it some challenges. There will be the risk of a company that has bought a license reverse-engineering the process and then beginning to build them themselves and cutting us out.
Finally, for us to achieve the scale that we want to achieve, we will need to build an extremely strong team of people around us. Our desire to balance quality employees with garnering a strong company culture will be difficult to manage and will need a lot of careful planning and nurturing.
How are you planning to overcome these barriers?
Funding: We have investors already who are committed to investing more. Scotland has a lot of grant funding for sustainable business. We have had a lot of interest from people all around the world looking to invest. Finally, the best way for us to fund our growth is profit. We will aim to bring in pre-sales or secure licencing agreements as quickly as possible to fund our growth.
Technical challenges: We are working with a world renowned research institute in Germany who have been involved with the scale-up of numerous technologies. We are building a scientific advisory board that includes the chief science officer of a circular business in Scotland and the ex-CEO of a company that scaled a manufacturing process.
Competition: We want to be able to collaborate with them, as we are both trying to achieve the same goals but they are extremely closed off. We keep constant tabs on what they are doing, but there is more than enough coffee waste in the UK for two companies to share.
Licensing: It is imperative that we have extremely strong contracts in place. Therefore we are going to be working closely with commercial lawyers to put as much protection in place.
Team & Company Culture: We are building a company values and vision document currently. We are also talking to experienced entrepreneurs to get their advice on culture building.
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How many people work on your solution team?
We have two co-founders working full-time on the business, as well as an investor director who sits on our board. We also have a Scientific Advisory Board made up of 2 individuals who are highly experienced in scientific and technical capacities. We have a team of 5 contractors in Germany working on our project, as well as an engineering intern who will be responsible for overseeing the launch of our demonstration unit in Glasgow. We also sub-contract our collections out to a resource management partner, where there are 6 drivers all involved in conducting coffee grounds collections on our behalf.
For how many years have you been working on your solution?
Why are you and your team best-placed to deliver this solution?
We have a deep-rooted passion to create monumental environmental impact through our work. We each spent over 7 years working in hospitality, thus saw the issue of coffee waste first-hand, and have intimate knowledge of how this industry works. We also both studied Entrepreneurship at university, and used problem solving skills from our studies to create models and processes to deal with coffee waste. We were also both Saltire Scholars through the Saltire Foundation in 2014, which is a prestigious internship scheme designed to develop “future leaders”, and we gained international experience across a range of industries throughout this process.
Our investor director is one of four individual investors in Revive, with each of them being on the board of a major UK resource management company, including the CEO, CFO and COO. This has brought incredible knowledge and experience of the waste and resource management, and logistics industries, which has been pivotal in helping us grow.
Our Scientific Advisory Board has a unique blend of skills including scaling up manufacturing processes, as well as bringing a ‘waste to product’ material to market which is of immense benefit to us.
Our technical partners are part of a world leading research institute, with advanced knowledge of innovative processing technologies, and experience of taking processes from lab scale to commercial scale.
The blend of skills, experiences and knowledge within the business has been invaluable to our progress to this point, and will continue to play a vital role as we continue to expand.
With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?
Partnerships are key to every element of our business model. We have partnered with resource management company, Cauda, who conduct our coffee collections on our behalf, and have been key to our growth.
We also have a range of partnerships with several large scale coffee waste producers including Edinburgh University, and the Scottish Event Campus, one of Europe’s busiest live events venues. These partnerships have enabled us to test and validate our collection model, putting us in a position where we are now working on partnerships with major coffee chains.
Our technical partner is a world leading research institute who are our key partner in the development of our processing technology. We will continue to have a close relationship as we look to apply our processing technology to additional waste streams.
We are currently forming some extremely exciting partnerships with potential end users of our natural oils. These partners include global cosmetics brands placing an emphasis on environmental sustainability. These organisations will be involved in our demonstration phase, where they will trial our natural oils as part of their formulations. This will guide us in terms of establishing the most sought after oils that we can produce from the grounds.
What is your business model?
Our business model has three key elements; collections, processing and sales. A small amount of revenue is generated from the collection of used coffee grounds from clients. This process is outsourced to Cauda, who receive the majority of revenue from collections. We provide clients with impact reports, which detail the volume of coffee grounds they have diverted from landfill through working with us. We are determined to change the face of waste management, by providing clients with impact measurement data that they can then communicate to their customers.
Upon collection, the coffee grounds are then processed using our innovative, environmentally efficient oil extraction process. It is here that we produce the ingredients that we then sell to cosmetics, food & drink, and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
It is the sales of these oils that creates the highest volume of impact and revenue for us. In terms of revenue, these oils have an average market value of £75 per kg, and there is high demand from industry for oils which are locally and sustainably sourced, which we can provide.
What is your path to financial sustainability?
Up until the beginning of 2019, we funded ourselves through grant funding and competition winnings. However, we secured our first investment earlier this year which allowed us to co-fund our largest grant funding to date from Zero Waste Scotland. Looking forward, we have built a strong funding plan to continue our development work. We will continue to take advantage of grant funding available from the Scottish government. Our investors are happy to invest more money into the company upon the completion of the current development stage. We are in discussions with our bank to set up asset finance to help fund the build of our first commercial oil extraction unit. Beyond this point, we will work hard to become self-sustaining through revenue as quickly as possible. We have multiple revenue streams as part of our business model.
Revenue created from the coffee grounds collection service.
Revenue from the sale of the oils extracted from the coffee grounds
Revenue from the sale of the residual material as compost / fertiliser
Revenue from selling licenses for the technology
Why are you applying to Solve?
Solve would be massively beneficial to our growth and in advancing our work. The key barriers we are facing are funding, technical challenges of scaling a new technology, licensing and building a strong team and company culture. We see being selected as a Solver as far more than just funding. However, the funding would clearly help us overcome our funding barrier, allowing us to bring on our first employee which would allow the founders to focus more on growing the company and maximising the impact we are having. On top of this, introductions to investors would also open doors to potential further capital to help us move forward too.
Tapping into the network and community surrounding Solve would be hugely beneficial in helping us overcome the technical challenges of scaling a new technology. The organisations involved with Solve will have invaluable experience and any advice they could provide may help us scale more quickly and more easily. They will no doubt also have experience in licencing as well which would be equally helpful.
Finally, being a part of a competition like Solve will play a massive role in building the type of company culture we want to cultivate. Once we start building a team, we want the Solve Challenge values of impact, collaboration and innovation to be instilled into the company culture. Building a strong company culture will be challenging, but being part of a competition like Solve will make that challenge a lot easier to overcome.
What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?
With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?
There are several areas of the business where strategic partners will be absolutely pivotal to our growth, namely manufacturing, investment and sales. In terms of manufacturing, we are actively seeking organisations who have experience of scaling up manufacturing processes. Whilst we are not at a stage ready to scale yet, we are very keen to begin speaking to organisations and have them involved in our development so when it comes to scaling up, they have been involved in the lead up to that phase.
Regarding investment, we are keen to work with like minded, strategic investors, such as Circularity Capital and Patagonia’s Tin Shed Ventures. It is imperative to us that we strive to work with aligned organisations, and this absolutely includes investment.
Working with large scale logistics companies is also key to our progression, and partnering with firms such as Kuehne and Nagel would be invaluable to our long term growth as it would enable us to service a much higher percentage of the UK, as well as utilising existing transport, meaning we have no additional carbon footprint through accessing the coffee grounds.
We are also working hard to create a long term partnership with Lush and Bulldog Skincare which would be catalytic in our growth, and would ensure we are working with well aligned organisations who will be able to support our growth.
If you would like to apply for the GM Prize on Circular Economy, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution.
We are passionate advocates of the power of the Circular Economy, and the importance the model plays as society seeks a more sustainable future. Revive was set up with circular and sustainable foundations at the core of everything we do, and winning the GM Prize for the Circular Economy would enable us to catalyse our growth and rapidly increase the impact we can have. The two huge benefits to us of winning would be the cash prize itself, but also the prestige of becoming a Solver Team, and winning an award sponsored by such an internationally-renowned organisation as GM. This would give us an incredible platform to spread the word about the importance of the Circular Economy, not just in Scotland, but to a global audience.
The prize itself would be used to add new employees to our team. We are now at a point where it is pivotal to our continued progress that we add to our team to assist in our development plans. Employees would be in the areas of marketing & sales, and processing, which are pivotal parts of the business, and essential to our growth. A key goal of ours is to create local and sustainable jobs, and winning this award would enable us to make our very first hires, and start on this exciting journey of building a team. Winning this award would be transformational to us, and it would provide the boost needed to take Revive to the next level and maximise our impact.