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Business Spotlight: Grounds for Good

15 Mar, 2024

Based in Penarth, Grounds For Good was founded by environmental advocate and retired consultant psychiatrist Dr Rosie Oretti. After recognising the damage single-use coffee grounds can have on the planet, Rosie used her scientific background to find a way to repurpose coffee “waste”.

Grounds For Good joined the GlobalWelsh for Business membership programme in 2023. We caught up with Founder Rosie to talk about the need to move away from the linear model and how sustainability can economically benefit businesses too…

Tell us a little bit about Grounds For Good...

We’re called Grounds For Good because we take used coffee grounds and repurpose them for ‘good’. While most people focus on takeaway cups, few think about the actual coffee waste we produce from our daily coffees. Coffee grounds are only pressed and used once in cafes before they’re discarded, but there’s so much more we can be doing with that leftover coffee. We started researching alternative eco ideas for coffee grounds during the pandemic and then launched the business in April 2021. 

We are, essentially, the middleman between local cafes and businesses that want to integrate coffee into their products and through this we’ve helped make a diverse range of products such as chocolate, vodka, cooking oils and various other products including our own range of products. Who knew coffee was so versatile, right?

We believe that recycling coffee grounds is the future. The global coffee grounds market was valued at US$ 14.2 Billion in 2022, accelerating with a CAGR of 5.1% by 2032. So, it’s really no brainer to use this “waste product” to revolutionise and boost the global economy.

"I’m passionate about the environment and recognised that this was an innovative and creative way to use my scientific knowledge while benefiting the planet, so here we are!"

What made you venture into the world of coffee?

This business wasn’t in my life plan, that’s for sure. I was a Consultant Psychiatrist in the NHS for over 30 years before deciding to retire. I knew that I wanted to continue to ‘do good’ but I wasn’t sure exactly where to start. As I’d worked with a lot of homeless individuals during my career in the NHS, I wanted to give back and support that area in particular. I decided to volunteer in a cafe in Cardiff which supported a young homelessness agency and I asked the fatal question of ‘what do you do with your coffee grounds’. They explained that they were single use, or given to customers, but the majority went to landfill. With my love of science, I knew there had to be a better alternative and while I never expected to be doing it myself, that’s where Grounds For Good began. 

I've always loved coffee and as I have Italian heritage, it quite literally runs in my blood! From my research I found that there were only two UK companies which were recycling coffee grounds, and sadly, one of these recently went out of business. I’m passionate about the environment and recognised that this was an innovative and creative way to use my scientific knowledge while benefiting the planet, so here we are!

"There was something about GlobalWelsh that resonated with me and I thought as a Welsh company why not get involved with a Welsh network. Our business model is also all about growing in Wales and supporting each other so I think GlobalWelsh is a great vehicle for Welsh innovation."

How does Grounds For Good support charities?

We make donations through a platform called Work for Good. I originally toyed with the idea of forming a social enterprise. However, the homeless charity we support, quite rightly, can’t take donations from the sale of alcohol related products. So, we use those profits to fund the business and a percentage of the non-alcoholic profits goes directly to the charity. 

Until recently, I was on the board of The Wallich Charity (our National Homelessness Charity), but as GFG grew I knew I couldn’t devote as much time as I would have wanted as a trustee. However, through Grounds For Good I have provided workshop opportunities to homeless individuals as a transition into paid employment. Whilst we don’t currently have a bricks and mortar store, this is something I’m considering in the future to continue a volunteering scheme with The Wallich Charity.

"We’re called Grounds For Good because we take used coffee grounds and repurpose them for ‘good’. While most people focus on takeaway cups, few think about the actual coffee waste we produce from our daily coffees."

What does sustainability mean to you?

We’ve centred the whole premise of the business around sustainability, adopting a circular model. Not only that, but the companies we work with, and the ingredients we use with the coffee grounds, have sustainable connections too. For example, we’ve launched an extra virgin rapeseed oil infused with our coffee grounds. We chose this because it’s grown on a local farm and follows the farm to fork approach. We know the entire journey of that oil and by being grown in the UK, and Wales in particular, we’re keeping the carbon footprint down, boosting the Welsh economy, and highlighting the benefits of a UK grown oil.

Another example is our packaging. We use minimal packaging which is recycled and plastic light, or even plastic free. I take a lot of time sourcing environmental options. Our glass vodka bottles are 30% lighter and the corks are non-plastic. We are about to launch our gin in a frugal cardboard bottle! We work with local designers and printers. We’re not perfect, but to me, sustainability is when you’re transparent about the process and hold your hands up when there’s potential for eco evolution.

I don’t think consumption of coffee around the world is going to decrease any time soon, which is why this is a global issue. There are existing businesses who are turning to coffee grounds to create clothing, building materials, and renewable energy, amongst other things. Recognising this, we created a depository where local businesses could drop their coffee waste. This in turn, goes to a site in Wales to be turned into biogas and renewable energy through the process of anaerobic digestion. Last year, we diverted around 9 and a half tons of coffee waste which provided energy to run around 2,100 laptops for 20 hours each. Astonishingly, coffee chains can generate coffee grounds waste in the region of 88 tonnes a week. We’re still trying to work out how to tackle that mammoth problem. 

How can GlobalWelsh support your business?

It really is about the quality of the connections! There was something about GlobalWelsh that resonated with me and I thought as a Welsh company why not get involved with a Welsh network. Like most entrepreneurs, my time is precious and I’m time poor. We’re looking to work with a local waste collection service and we believe that branching out our Welsh network can help us achieve this mission quicker. 

Our business model is also all about growing in Wales and supporting each other so I think GlobalWelsh is a great vehicle for Welsh innovation. We loved seeing the amazing talent coming out of Wales in the Connect to London event in December last year and we want to continue raising awareness of our mission and supporting our fellow Welsh entrepreneurs. 

What’s next for Grounds For Good?

We are very excited about the future! We’ve just secured funding for a project with Aberystwyth University and we’re looking to work with Cardiff University in the future, So, we are currently focussed heavily on research and development. 

We’re also in talks with a large coffee chain to help source our coffee grounds, so watch this space!

Connect with Rosie on GlobalWelsh Connect >>

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