Have a Cup of Fuel


At Lafarge, Used K-Cups Pack a Second Life as an Alternative Fuel.

By Josie Smith

Lafarge Canada Inc. and Van Houtte Coffee Services Inc. have partnered to reduce the environmental footprint of both organizations by replacing a portion of Lafarge’s AltFuelLeadImage-400
fossil fuel energy at the Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, cement plant with 70,000 lb. annually of used K-Cup coffee and tea packs.

“As part of its worldwide Sustainability Ambitions to minimize fossil fuel use and their related greenhouse gas emissions, Lafarge is proud to be the recipient of used K-Cup packs, which are helping manufacture a critical building material,” commented Bob Cooper, vice president of cement for Lafarge in western Canada.

The idea was generated by the Kamloops plant’s employees while discussing small steps to take toward alternative fuel substitution. Looking at the plant’s site-generated waste stream, the K-Cups seemed like a great idea, explained Eric Isenor, Lafarge Kamloops plant manager.

Isenor continued: “A local distributor of the K-Cups – Van Houtte Coffee Services – was approached to discuss whether they had interest in working with us. They were very enthusiastic about an option to divert K-Cups from landfills.”

Kamloops cement plant.

With the larger supply that Van Houtte was able to collect from other commercial accounts in the British Columbia interior and Lafarge’s own used K-Cups, the plant proceeded with tests and the permitting needed to gain government approval for the alternate fuel.

The Kamloops plant has been using the K-Cups for almost a year. No new equipment was needed to process the used coffee packs. The K-Cups are stored in large containers under the kiln to dry.

From there, the containers are emptied into the plant’s alternative fuel (wood chips) stockpile and then processed through a small shredder before being blown into the kiln through the burner pipe. The substitution level has been increasing as more local companies and residents find out about the alternative fuel program and contribute used K-Cups.

Collection receptacle.

“Innovation is at the heart of our actions and addressing the environmental impact of Keurig brewing systems is a critical priority.” stated Morten Schroder, district manager British Columbia, Van Houtte Coffee Services. “The partnership between Lafarge and Van Houtte Coffee Services Inc. is a great example of what is possible when like-minded companies start working together towards a common environmental goal.”

Keurig Green Mountain is committed to ensuring that 100 percent of its K-Cup packs are recyclable by 2020 and is pursuing multiples avenues to achieve this target. Van Houtte Coffee Services Inc. is a subsidiary of Keurig Canada Inc., an affiliate of Keurig Green Mountain Inc.

Isenor believes that the partnership with Van Houtte is going well, and that this alternative fuel program could easily expand to other Lafarge sites in the future. Through the program, the plant is offsetting fossil fuel usage, diverting material from landfills, and giving the community a chance to participate in waste repurposing.

As part of its community outreach, Lafarge welcomes the public to drop off used K-Cup packs at the plant located at 9750 Shuswap Road in Kamloops.

Photos courtesy of LaFarge Canada and Keurig

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