Zero Impact Herald Sun Feature

Only in Melbourne … the start-up making fuel from coffee grounds


Max Middleweek- Founder of Zero Impact

The coffee beans that fuel our days could also be warming our homes and cooking our pizzas.
A Melbourne start-up is recycling coffee grounds into brickettes that burn better than wood and cleaner than coal.
With 65 coffee machines per square kilometre in the Melbourne CBD and the average cafe selling hundreds of steaming cups daily, mounds of grounds go to waste.
Entrepreneur Max Middleweek saw this as an opportunity and founded Zero Impact in Carlton. “Melbourne is a great coffee city, but there is a dark side to it where tons of coffee waste goes to landfill every day,” Mr Middleweek said.
The coffee grounds are made into “logs’’ which can burn for up to 40 minutes.
They can be used in fire pits, barbecues, campfires or in a fireplace.
“When you burn the logs, they have a slight aroma of coffee,” he said. “It’s kind of charming because it reminds you where it’s from.”
The coffee-scented logs can be used for cooking, but the Zero Impact founder had one big concern.
Zero Impact coffee logs made from waste “We were worried that the coffee logs would negatively affect the taste of food, so we tested them in a commercial pizza oven,” Mr Middleweek said. “We made 10 pizzas using our coffee logs and had a big taste test and it tasted great, so we found that it does not affect food in any way.”
Zero Impact has received a $23,000 small business grant from the City of Melbourne to expand their operation.
Zero Impact logs are made from coffee waste Coffee lover Nathan Paisley saw an ad for the fuel logs on Facebook and decided to give them a red hot go in his fire pit. “We had a barbecue with a few friends and I thought I would give it a go, and they burned just like regular firewood,” Mr Paisley said.
He said he liked the philosophy of the company because it allowed consumers to “do the right thing for the environment’. “I am going to keep using them, it’s both great to support a local business and to reuse waste,” he said.

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