Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



Starbucks: Energy Company of the Future?

Any bleary-eyed commuter, overtired parent, or sleep-deprived college student already appreciates the energy boost that Starbucks  (NASDAQ: SBUX  ) offers. But, Starbucks' energy jolts may extend past its espressos, Frappuccinos, and iced teas -- those used coffee grounds may eventually power the office building that you're commuting to.

A green leader 
Starbucks isn' just known by its easily recognizable, green-aproned employees. The company is celebrated for its sense of social responsibility, and it prides itself on its commitment to protecting the environment.

Source: Starbucks

In 2013, the company reduced its water usage by 21% over the baseline levels -- a large step toward the goal of reducing it by 25% by 2015; moreover, Starbucks increased the stores that offer its customers the chance to recycle by 67%, and it now counts 18 more countries which have LEED-certified stores. The company's efforts at minimizing its environmental impact is clear, so it would seem logical that if the company had the opportunity to recycle one of its most significant sources of waste -- coffee beans -- it would jump on it.

Turning the other side of the pond a little greener

Source: Bio-Bean

Keeping spent coffee grinds from filling up landfills in England, Bio-Bean process about 30,000 tons of the 200,000 tons of coffee waste that London coffee shops produce every year. According to the company website, it "uses a sophisticated coffee waste recycling infrastructure to collect this waste and transport it to our local processing plant."

Afterwards, the company converts the waste into two Advanced Biofuels: biomass pellets and biodiesel. The company then sells this to London businesses that use it to power buildings and for transportation. Since Bio-Bean only operates in London, it seems plausible that Starbucks pilots a project with one of its 50 stores in the city. If successful, Starbucks and Bio-Bean could then potentially bring the program to cities outside of London -- perhaps even to other countries.

Biofuel experts
One company that is already paving the way in the recycling of used food products is Darling Ingredients (NYSE: DAR  ) . With a market cap of $3.3 billion, the company is clearly more experienced than the small start-up, Bio-Bean, but it is an example of how large the market is for deriving power from food waste.

In business for over 100 years, the company operates over 200 facilities on 5 continents. In 2013, Darling International formed Diamond Green Diesel -- a $445 million joint-venture with Valero Energy Corp.  (NYSE: VLO  ) that fulfills nearly 15% of the national biomass-based biodiesel mandate. The endeavor has an annual production of 137 million gallons or 9,300 barrels per day. According to the company website, Valero then "markets the renewable diesel, distributing via pipeline using its distribution network." In addition to the renewable diesel, Diamond Green Diesel obtains co-products of its process like renewable butane, renewable propane, and Naptha.

Source: Darling International

Foolish final takeaway
Innovation in energy comes in all shapes and sizes -- deriving biofuels from coffee grounds is no different. Although Bio-Bean only operates in London, Starbucks has more than enough stores which could provide Bio-Bean with a valuable partnership. It doesn't seem too far-fetched that the two companies would work together considering Starbucks' sense of environmental stewardship. Who knows? There may come a time when our cars are driving along on Starbucks coffee long after our own Starbucks-inspired caffeine buzzes have expired.

Do you know this energy tax "loophole"?
You already know record oil and natural gas production is changing the lives of millions of Americans. But what you probably haven't heard is that the IRS is encouraging investors to support our growing energy renaissance, offering you a tax loophole to invest in some of America's greatest energy companies. Take advantage of this profitable opportunity by grabbing your brand-new special report, "The IRS Is Daring You to Make This Investment Now!," and you'll learn about the simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule. Don't miss out on advice that could help you cut taxes for decades to come. Click here to learn more.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 3024425, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 8/30/2015 4:21:57 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Scott Levine

A member of The Motley Fool since 2006, Scott began contributing content in 2013. He focuses primarily on the energy sector, specifically renewable energy companies. Follow him on Twitter for the most recent renewable energy news. . .

Today's Market

updated 1 day ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,643.01 -11.76 -0.07%
S&P 500 1,988.87 1.21 0.06%
NASD 4,828.33 15.62 0.32%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

8/28/2015 4:03 PM
DAR $12.75 Up +0.07 +0.55%
Darling Ingredient… CAPS Rating: ****
SBUX $55.63 Down -0.32 -0.57%
Starbucks CAPS Rating: ****
VLO $59.00 Up +0.65 +1.11%
Valero Energy Corp CAPS Rating: ****