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Q&A: coffee residue to bioplastic?

by Green Plastics



I am a student in Hong Kong. Now, I have a school project about eco-protection. I am thinking to recycle leftovers to bioplastics, and I want to use coffee residue as the raw material.

However, my first question is: is it possible make use of coffee residue to produce bioplastic?


Anyone tried that before?

As I know, cellulose can be transformed to bioplastic, but i don’t know how to extract cellulose from coffee residue. I google that someone said to boil wood or paper can get cellulose, however i tried that and seems it is not work for coffee residue. Would you share some information to me?


Thanks a lot.





Hello, Franky!  Thank you for your question.

The term “coffee residue” can refer to the husks of coffee plants and also to used coffee grounds.

The husks are very rich in cellulose, but (unfortunately) you can’t extract it simply by boiling it in water, because it will not dissolve. Dissolving the cellulose has to be done by trained chemists using special conditions, and the solvents are quite hazardous. So this is not something you can readily do as a home project.

The coffee grounds are not a good source of cellulose.  It is possible to use them in the creation of plastic, but the process is very complex and, once again, can only really be done by trained chemists under certain conditions.  What they would have to do is grind the residue, extract some of the organic components with solvents, pyrolyze the remainder to carbon, and blend the pyrolyzed carbon with a polymer to produce a plastic. If the polymer is a thermosetting polymer like polyurethane, the carbon from the coffee residue acts as a filler and the material can be compression molded.

So if the intent behind your question is simply, “Is it possible to use coffee residue in the creation of plastic?” then the simple answer is “yes!”  Unfortunately, if the intent behind your question is, “Is coffee-residue plastic something that I can experiment with at home?” the answer is “probably not.”

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