Coffee project grinds real results for participants

Ideas: Barefoot Pathways Transitional Training manager Scott Douglas has big plans for the coffee grinds the social enterprise collects from local cafes and restaurants. photograph hayley mills

Ideas: Barefoot Pathways Transitional Training manager Scott Douglas has big plans for the coffee grinds the social enterprise collects from local cafes and restaurants. photograph hayley mills

While few would consider leftover coffee grinds from the region's cafes as particularly useful, Barefoot Pathways Transitional Training is demonstrating it is a resource worth getting excited about.

The centre in Morwell operates social enterprises in which program participants are given specific job descriptions which they can then list on their resumes.

The coffee grinds project is one such social enterprise and Barefoot Pathways Transitional Training manager Scott Douglas is not short of ideas on how to re-purpose the coffee grinds.

With almost 80 cafes and restaurants in the Latrobe Valley on board and donating their leftover coffee grinds to the organisation, Mr Douglas said the project was collecting about one tonne of coffee a week which, for the most part, was being used to create compost to grow herbs, vegetables and flowers.

"It's a bit overwhelming the amount of coffee grinds we are getting," he said.

"We've grown from being wet compost to ... facial scrubs. It is a waste resource we are hoping to turn into a fully-fledged social enterprise.

"We're not making any money out of it at the moment but we're looking at how we can make money out of it down the track."

Mr Douglas said the organisation was investigating establishing pop-up gardens in Moe/Newborough and Traralgon where the coffee grind compost and soil mixes could be utilised to grow more produce.

"We've started building garden beds that move on pallets," he said.

"A compost with a garden bed that backs onto it so it can go anywhere in the Valley.

"We'll service it and we are asking for landlords to give us that space ... the space isn't much – it's about four metres by seven metres."

Mr Douglas said he was also in discussion with Federation University about partnering to test coffee grinds' suitability for biofuel and carbon capture.

"The leftovers we get would go to FedUni to get testing started," he said.

"It is still in the developmental stage but there is lots ... happening.

"It's all a work in progress but we are trying to highlight the clients who are working with us.

"They are people who are gaining genuine skills to return to employment.

"It's not just labour hire – they are working in enterprises, doing a task ... it is more than a CV filled with Work for the Dole activities but they can put an enterprise role [on their CV] and we'll map out their position description."

For more information or to get involved, visitbarefootpathwaysttc.org.au. 

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