Canadian Vending

Features Coffee Service
Farmers in Central America generate energy from coffee wastewater


September 8, 2014
By Canadian Vending

Topics

Sept. 8, 2014, Amsterdam – The Energy from Coffee Wastewater project by UTZ
Certified aims to generate energy, tackle climate
change and protect water resources by treating discharges from coffee
mills.

Sept. 8, 2014, Amsterdam – The Energy from Coffee Wastewater project by UTZ
Certified aims to generate energy, tackle climate
change and protect water resources by treating discharges from coffee
mills.

The project started in 2010 with the goal of addressing
environmental and health problems caused by the wastewater produced in
the coffee industry.
 
Tailor-made coffee wastewater treatment
systems and solid-waste treatment mechanisms were installed in eight
coffee farms in Nicaragua, 10 in Honduras and one in Guatemala. The
positive environmental and economic impact of the project on over 5,000
people in the region has inspired UTZ Certified to replicate the
initiative in other countries.

Latin
America produces around 70 per cent of the world’s coffee and is the continent
where 31 per cent of the world’s freshwater resources are located, said the company in a news release. Yet coffee
production generates a great amount of wastewater that is regularly
released untreated into rivers, affecting aquatic fauna and flora as
well as downstream communities. Additionally, coffee wastewater comes
along with tons of organic waste and high toxicity which affects the
soil and generates considerable amounts of greenhouse-gas emissions,
particularly methane, heavily contributing to climate change. 

Advertisment

The project has been implemented on a range
of differently sized farms. The achieved results range
from preventing local deforestation of native trees to better indoor
environments for families who replaced firewood with domestic gas stoves
for cooking. Additional outcomes included:
 

  • Treatment of essentially all water used in coffee processing
  • Over 50 per cent less water used during coffee processing
  • Generation of significant amount of biogas used to power households and coffee mills
  • Prevention of the release of greenhouse-gas emissions into the atmosphere

“Coffee
production is only environmentally sustainable when water is used
efficiently and polluted water from the wet-mill process is treated.
Local ecosystems do not have the capacity to clean the large amounts of
contaminated fluids,” said Han De Groot, executive director at UTZ
Certified, in the release. “Rural communities and coffee production depend intrinsically
on a ready supply of fresh water. So if we want to talk about coffee
produced in a sustainable manner then wastewater must be treated when
released into the environment.”
 
UTZ Certified is
currently introducing the technology in Peru and Brazil. UTZ hopes to
get further funds and industry’s support to replicate the initiative in
Africa and Asia.