Waste Management for Coffee Factories in Kenya

Waste Management for Coffee Factories in Kenya

Waste management for coffee factories in Kenya is a subject that we cannot avoid. It concerns every Kenyan, and we should not take its importance lightly.

Coffee production in Kenya is an integral part of the country’s economy, with the crop being grown on large estates and smallholder farms. However, coffee production can generate a significant amount of waste, which, if not appropriately managed, can cause environmental pollution and adversely affect the health of workers and nearby communities. There are several ways to manage coffee waste safely and sustainably. Coffee factories in Kenya can adopt best practices in coffee waste management to help reduce environmental pollution and improve the health and safety of workers and nearby communities.

This article will discuss the types of waste generated by coffee factories and the proper practices on how they should be managed, treated, and disposed of. Keep reading the post for the best insights.

Table of Contents

Waste Generation by Coffee Factories

Before you learn about the methods employed in waste management for coffee factories, you should first understand the processes that lead to waste generation. Before you can have a cup of coffee, it undergoes an intricate production process. After farmers bring their freshly harvested coffee into the factory, it must be processed. There are mainly three processing methods, dry, wet, and semi-wet. All the methods aim at removing the flesh, called cherry.

Drying, milling, roasting, and grinding follow after processing. Between these production processes, waste is generated, and it will vary depending on the processing method employed.

There are two main stages in the production cycle of coffee: pre-roasting and post-roasting. The pre-roasting stage includes all the processes before roasting the coffee. The post-roasting phase has all the processes after the coffee is roasted.

The pre-roasting stage has dry, semi-dry, and wet coffee processing. Dry processing generates cherry husks as waste (byproduct), while semi-dry and wet processing produces coffee pulp as the byproduct. Semi-dry and wet processing has coffee silverskins and spent coffee grounds.

Solid Waste Management for Coffee Factories in Kenya

In waste management for coffee factories, cherry husks, coffee pulp, coffee silverskins, and spent coffee grounds are considered types of solid waste.

i. Cherry husks

In solid waste management for coffee factories, cherry husks are the primary byproducts of dry processing, also called the unwashed process. Cherry husks are a composition of dried skin, pulp, and parchment. Every ton of fresh coffee produces 0.18 tons of cherry husks and 150-200 kgs of commercial green coffee.

The composition of cherry husks is 58 – 85% of carbohydrates, 8 – 11% of proteins, 0.5 – 3% of lipids, and 3 – 7% of minerals. It contains other minor elements like caffeine, chlorogenic acid, and tannins.

Ways of managing cherry husks

In waste management for coffee factories in Kenya, the following are some of the ways you can utilize cherry husks:

  • Biogas production. Through anaerobic digestion of cherry husks, you will obtain biogas. Contact Biozone, the regional waste management and treatment experts for the best biodigesters for coffee factories in Kenya.
  • Production of alcohol. By fermenting the cherry husks, you can obtain ethanol.
  • As a biosorbent of several materials like cyanide, removing heavy metals from aqueous solutions, defluoridation of water, and lead.
  • As fuel pellets. Through a ring-die pellet mill, cherry husks can be converted into pellets that can be used as fuel.
  • As substrates in mushroom farming.
  • As a compost material. Since cherry husks are organic, they make excellent composting materials for producing organic manure.
  • As an ingredient in food production. Cherry husks are used in making smoothies, granola, and juices.
  • As an ingredient in energy drinks. Cherry husks have a high concentration of caffeine and tannins, which can be extracted and used in the manufacturing of energy drinks.
  • For mold, yeast, and enzyme production. Due to the high concentration of fermentable sugars in cherry husks, they can be crushed and used to manufacture mold, yeast, or enzymes.

ii. Coffee pulp

In waste management for coffee factories in Kenya, the coffee pulp is also considered a waste product or byproduct. It is obtained in both wet and semi-wet coffee processing. As an estimate, for every two tons of commercial green coffee produced, one ton of coffee pulp is obtained. It is also estimated that coffee pulp makes up 29% dry-weight of the whole cherry.

Coffee pulp is made up of two main parts, that is, the outer skin (exocarp) and the fleshy part (mesocarp). It is rich in carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and proteins. It also has traces of tannins, polyphenols, and caffeine.

Managing coffee pulp

The following are some ways through which coffee pulp can be utilized as a method of solid waste management for coffee factories:

  • As a soil additive in mushroom farming.
  • For biogas production. Through anaerobic digestion of coffee pulp, it will generate biogas. Contact Biozone for the construction and design of biogas production systems or biodigesters.
  • For the production of alcohol. By fermenting coffee pulp, you will generate bioethanol.
  • As compost material. Since the coffee pulp is organic, it makes an excellent compost material.
  • For the production of fuel briquettes or pellets.
  • For the production of enzymes such as cellulose and pectinase.
  • For food production. The coffee pulp can be crushed into flour which can be used for cooking and baking.

iii. Coffee silverskin

Coffee silverskin is a byproduct obtained after roasting. It is considered the least in waste management for coffee factories. It is rich in fiber (dietary soluble fiber) and antioxidants like phenolic compounds.

Managing coffee silverskin

As methods of waste management for coffee factories, the following are the ways coffee silverskin can be utilized:

  • As an ingredient in production. Since coffee silverskin is rich in fiber and antioxidants, it can be used to make certain types of foods.
  • For the manufacture of enzymes like fructose.
  • For alcohol production. By fermenting coffee silverskin, it will produce bioethanol.
  • For anti-ageing cosmetics. Because of the high concentration of antioxidants in coffee silverskin, it can be used as an anti-ageing ingredient in the cosmetic industry.

iv. Spent coffee grounds

Spent coffee grounds are a result of brewing coffee. Arabica coffee is the widely used blend in brewing coffee. With over 99% of all coffee in Kenya being arabica, the country produces a lot of spent coffee grounds. For coffee brewing, roasted coffee beans are available to consumers as whole beans, ground beans, or instant coffee.

In waste management for coffee factories, spent coffee grounds from the instant coffee industry, brewing in cafeterias, and even brewing at home are all considered as waste from the factory. About 0.91 g of the spent coffee grounds are produced per 1 g of ground coffee, and about two kilograms of wet spent coffee grounds are produced for every kilogram of instant coffee made.

Spent coffee grounds contain cellulose, hemicellulose, arabinose, mannose, galactose lignin, fat, protein, and dietary fibers. These unique ingredients make spent coffee grounds a critical raw material for many industries.

Managing spent coffee grounds

In waste management for coffee factories, the following are the ways that coffee spent grounds can be utilized:

  • Production of biodiesel.
  • Production of bioethernol.
  • Production of fuel pellets.
  • Production of steam.
  • Production of reusable cups.
  • Production of spirit beverage.
  • As a source of sugars.
  • As a substrate in mushroom farming.
  • As a compost material.
  • As a source of antioxidants.

Wastewater Management for Coffee Factories in Kenya

Wastewater management for coffee factories in Kenya is critical since failure to do so will result in a lot of organic effluent being discharged into waterways. The wet and semi-dry coffee processing methods generate a lot of wastewater rich in organic matter. Depending on the processing method employed by the factory, wastewater will vary in quantity.

The primary pollution in coffee wastewater stems from the organic matter set free during pulping when the coffee pulp is removed. The mucilage texture surrounding the parchment is partly disintegrated.

To avoid the potential pollution of waterways by the effluent from coffee factories, every factory should have a water treatment plant.

Biozone Wastewater Treatment Plant

You will need to know about the various treatment options available for better wastewater treatment. At Biozone Kenya, we offer consultancy based on the kind of liquid waste you generate so that you may be better placed to have the best Liquid waste treatment plant for your establishment. Biozone offers three alternatives for liquid/water treatment, as explained below:

1. Primary Liquid Waste Treatment plant

Biological treatment is not always the best or the complete solution to all coffee factory wastewater applications. The wide range of possible impurities in coffee factory wastewater streams sometimes requires employing several physical-chemical treatment steps to remove the contaminants to a level that will allow for the discharge or reuse of the wastewater.

Dissolved contaminants, suspended matter, fats, oils, and grease (FOG) can require other technologies and solutions for effective treatment. For a low-cost industrial liquid waste treatment plant, consult Biozone Kenya.

2. Anaerobic Liquid Waste Treatment Plant

Without oxygen, many anaerobic microorganisms work together to decompose organic matter. The microbiology behind the process is more complex and delicate than that of aerobic processes, where most bacteria work individually. It is mainly why anaerobic systems require greater control and monitoring to perform efficiently.

This type of treatment is very effective in the removal of biodegradable organic compounds. It is especially suitable for organic wastes and wastewater streams highly loaded with organic contaminants. It converts them to mostly methane gas and carbon dioxide, with minimal excess sludge generation. For further inquiries or a quotation on anaerobic wastewater management for coffee factories in Kenya, contact Biozone.

3. Aerobic Liquid Waste Treatment Plant

Highly effective and able to generate very high-quality effluents, aerobic biological wastewater treatment processes were once the solution applied to treat most types of industrial wastewater. Nowadays, with far greater emphasis on energy efficiency and the minimization of residuals (i.e., waste sludge), they are mostly limited to diluted industrial wastewater and as a polishing step after anaerobic treatment.

However, when strict discharge requirements are present, it is still impossible to design a complete biological treatment for any wastewater without applying at least one aerobic step. Therefore, our portfolio of technologies also includes various aerobic treatment systems. This way, we can offer you a complete range of wastewater treatment solutions to meet any discharge requirements. For further inquiries on aerobic wastewater treatment, contact Biozone Kenya.

Liquid Waste Treatment Enzymes and Microbes

Biozone Environzyme BFB

The Environzyme BFB is a microbiological combination of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and multi enzymes that break down wastewater to clean effluent. It is a dry free flowing powder that contains a concentrated source of free-flowing hydrolytic enzymes and ten strains of natural bacteria capable of producing enzymes in wastewater treatment systems under aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

Whether in the Biozone Wastewater Treatment Plants or an existing wastewater treatment plant already in your establishment, the Environzyme BFB is the enzyme and microbial formula you will need to break down and digest organic matter effectively.

The notable advantages of Environzyme BFB are:

  • More volumes will be digested and hence the sludge volume will be reduced.
  • Eradicates bad odour.
  • To pump and dewater the sludge will be easier.
  • Your treatment capacity will increase since more organic matter will be digested.
  • The time taken to digest organic matter is less.
  • The treatment system is easily balanced.
  • The aeration stage in the treatment will be faster and more effective.
  • The digesters will perform evenly and uniformly since the organic matter is adequately digested.

Importance of Waste Management for Coffee Factories in Kenya

The following are the benefits accrued from proper waste management for coffee factories in Kenya:

  • Source of income. As a method of waste management for coffee factories, the waste (byproducts) is sold to other industries as raw materials. That will earn the coffee factory additional income hence increasing profits.
  • Source of raw materials. Many industries depend on coffee byproducts as the primary source of raw materials. That means waste management for coffee factories in Kenya is essential for industrialization.
  • Source of employment. Since waste management for coffee factories results in the mushrooming of new industries that depend on the byproducts as raw materials, these new factories will offer employment opportunities to the unemployed. It gives the government an avenue to solve the unemployment scourge in the country.
  • Source of energy. Anaerobic waste management for coffee factories generates biogas which can be used as a source of fuel or electricity in the factory. That will result in saving energy costs hence increasing profits.
  • Source of organic fertilizer. Cherry husks, coffee pulp, and spent coffee grounds are organic and hence make suitable materials for composting, providing organic manure to the farmers.
  • Saves the environment. As we have seen above, coffee factory waste is rich in organic matter. If the effluent from the factories is washed into watercourses, it pollutes the water, making aquatic life difficult.

FAQs About Waste Management for Coffee Factories in Kenya

What kind of waste is generated by coffee factories?

Many people ask about the types of waste generated by coffee factories in Kenya. In waste management for coffee factories, there are five main kinds of waste, cherry husks, coffee pulp, coffee silverskins, spent coffee grounds, and wastewater. The first four are considered more as byproducts than waste since they are always in demand as raw materials for other industries.

Do coffee factories pollute the environment?

There are those asking if coffee factories pollute the environment. The answer is YES. In waste management for coffee factories, the biggest problem is managing wastewater, which poses more danger to the environment than all other kinds of coffee waste. Due to the abundance of organic matter in the wastewater, when it washes into other water bodies, it causes a reduction of oxygen due to the decomposition of the organic materials. That will make the water unfit for aquatic life and people.


There is a great need for improved waste management practices for coffee factories in Kenya. The current system is not only inefficient, but it also poses a severe health and environmental risk. Something needs to be done to address this problem.

There are several options available for improving waste management practices. One option is installing a wastewater treatment plant specifically designed for coffee factories. Another option is to work with the local government to develop a more effective waste management plan. For a tailor-made treatment plant, talk to Biozone Kenya.

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