Scientists cooperating with Starbucks report success in finding use for waste

August 21, 2012 |

In Pennsylvania, at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society scientists described development and successful laboratory testing of a new “biorefinery” intended to change food waste into a key ingredient for making plastics, laundry detergents and scores of other everyday products.

The report covered their work, launched in cooperation with the Starbucks restaurant chain – concerned with sustainability and seeking a use for spent coffee grounds and stale bakery goods.  The biorefinery process involves blending the baked goods with a mixture of fungi that excrete enzymes to break down carbohydrates in the food into simple sugars.

The blend then goes into a fermenter, a vat where bacteria convert the sugars into succinic acid.  The process has also been tested with a mix of foods, including coffee grounds.

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