The Cagayan de Oro factory in the Philippines is one of our largest soluble coffee factories. Like any large operation, it requires a great deal of energy for all stages of processing. As a coffee company concerned with environmental sustainability, we wanted to find a cleaner source of energy instead of using heavy "bunker" fuel which would create nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide and cause air pollution.
NESCAFÉ continues to look for ways to achieve environmental sustainability at the Cagayan de Oro plant and elsewhere, for example by switching from heavy fuel to diesel oil for the processes that are not covered by the fuel from the coffee grounds.
When NESCAFÉ looked into ways of reducing its reliance on fossil fuels, it quickly became evident that discarded coffee grounds were potentially a very important source of energy. In order to extract this energy with the greatest efficiency, we designed and built a state-of-the-art system (known to specialists as an Atmospheric Fluidized Bed Boiler, or "AFBB") which could use these coffee grounds.
The responsible production process of recycling the spent coffee grounds begins after the beans are extracted. First the roast and ground coffee is processed with hot water to produce the coffee extract. Then, while the coffee extract is dried to produce best-selling NESCAFÉ coffee, the spent coffee grounds are sent to the AFBB system to be used as fuel. The heat produced from this process is then used to produce the steam requirements of the factory.
"Because we burn less oil in generating steam, the AFBB helps reduce environmental pollution as well as save energy costs," says Ed Legasto, the manager of the Cagayan de Oro factory. "And thanks to the installation of an efficient pollution control device, the whole AFBB system is fully-compliant with the Clean Air Act," he adds.
Yet another advantage of this system is reduced landfill requirements. 70,000 tonnes of spent coffee grounds being used for fuel are 70,000 tonnes that do not have to be landfilled.