Our group received fairly good feedback from the presentation as we showed our map to the class and presented our what was to be our final list of products:

-a coffee cup made from a composite of up to 95% recycled coffee grounds, bound with an organic resin and a flame retardant additive

-an ashtray made from the same process using the coffee ground’s deodorising qualities.

-a plant pot made from the same material using the coffee ground’s qualities to repel insects and pets.

-a facial mask and scrub that uses the coffee ground’s properties to  reduce cellulite

There has been some controversy in whether the ashtray is actually a good object to design as it may encourage smoking. Certainly there is that possiblity but Iona, a smoker herself who is aware of the bad habit, justified the need for the ashtray to reduce cigarette butts in the streets. Less ashtrays mean that more cigarette butts will just end up as litter, since people will still smoke.

During this exchange, Iona brought out a small cigarette dispenser and the tutors recommended on trying to make that product instead. This task was delegated to Mukrawi, who found we couldn’t really make a dispenser from coffee grounds. Instead I suggested a small pouch to act as a deodoriser for the dispenser and she found she couldn’t make a pouch but instead made a small bottle of coffee grounds- which would become something for the general public to use in their home remedies- whether it be as a deodoriser or a fertiliser.

Alison also suggested to use the term ‘corporate enterprise’ to succinctly explain our idea, as while our solution solves a waste problem, we are also aiming to help the community by incorporating workshops for the homeless through the Rough Edges centre in Victoria Street.

With the above suggestion, I created the RECAF brand, which references the recycling of the coffee grounds and is a play on the word Decaf. The RE are also intials for Rough Edges, tying the name back to the social enterprise.

The Recaf brand

The design is simplistic as it is for the market environment but still has a contemporary look with the use of the typeface Eurostile. The label is also printed on hemp sketch paper which is 75% recycled paper and 25% industsrial hemp- it is a tree-free paper and can be recycled more times than normal paper. I decided to have as less labels as possible, for the other products like the plant pots, the labels will just be something you can easily take off. The labels merely get the brand out there as well as reference what the product is and what is it made of.


Production of our coffee-based item prototypes had begun as we started on testing the ashtray idea. It was very convenient that Mukrawi worked in a cafe so she had full access of the coffee grounds. Unlike an existing ashtray that is made from coffee grounds, we don’t have the immediate technology to create a prototype from that concentration of coffee grounds, so we decided that making a clay mould then covering it with coffee grounds would be the best approach to convey the idea. We know that the technology is available out there from our research so we just have to justify this fact in the presentaion.

During class, the prototype wasn’t entirely dry or done but we had the basic shape confirmed. I decided to make the ashtray have a more organic touch, basing it on the shape of a leaf to create a sleek design that the people of Darlinghurst would be encouraged to buy.

We’ve also talked about integrating these products into a system that involves the community and I immediately thought of the Rough Edges charity in Victoria Street, where I did my research. Perhaps we could integrate a business where the coffee grounds would be collected from cafes and Rough Edges creates workshops for the homeless to create these products. Not only will this reduce waste and recycle the coffee grounds but it could also give the homeless more skills and chances to return to normal society with some confidence.

The group decided to focus on coffee grounds as it was surprising to see the amount of uses it has, from home-remedies to horticulture.
We were not sure if we should go with the cosmetics route or the horticulture route. On the one hand, Mukrawi had already tested a coffee cosmetic home remedy although she mentioned how it was itchy. Whether this was because of the solution or even her skin, this comment made me a bit wary about the cosmetic idea. Certainly we would have to test it out if we were to make the product and even then there are many factors such as the mix for the cosmetic (maybe it wasn’t the coffee grounds directly that makes the product itchy) or even a consumer’s skin type.
If we go for the horticulture route, we run the risk of being too similar to what other groups are doing with worm farms and other gardening solutions. There are also products in the market that are similar so maybe we should try for something different.

A quilt from my favourite shirt and some shorts that don't fit

Clara Vuletich’s workshop was an interesting change from the usual classes as it was nice to create something practical and change groups around. I found the workshop tied in quite nicely with the previous Smiths Family site visit although this felt more intimate and personal.

Contrary to the instructions the tutor had given us, Vuletich’s understanding of the workshop was that we would bring in pieces of clothing that had sentimental value to turn into pieces of quilt, thus creating a multi-layered material that works in both a sustainable and memorial level. However most brought in scraps of fabric which had little or no special value and were leftovers from past projects, which was quite valid as the lab focused on tackling waste. I however, brought in some old garments that were in both categories- these fabrics were now unusable but at the same time, they used to be favourite pieces of clothing in the past, which tied in to Vuletich’s original intent. As such, I actually found it quite hard to see a favourite shirt being cut into pieces.

our group's quilts

These feelings were soon put to rest as the quilting process began turning that old shirt and some other fabrics into something different and more layered. As soon as I got past the sentimental feelings, I soon found it enjoyable to turn the unusable fabrics into something with a new use. The workshop was quite relaxing and therapeutic in fact, conversing with new people- it felt like a community project. It was nice to slow down and focus on a tactile process, as soon as I finally recalled some sewing techniques.

quilts from the whole class

It was interesting to note that a few people in contrast had mentioned how the quilting process would have been much more efficient with a sewing machine and while that is a fact I do agree on, I felt the experience would not have been the same. Even though the quilt making would be faster, there would have been less communication or conversation with other members and the slow, therapeutic quality of the workshop would not take place. I find that this side-effect is an interesting way of approaching a task that was intended as a way of reducing waste. It bolsters a sense of community and would be a good approach for community projects while tackling waste problems.

In Taiwan, coffee beans have been turned into coffee yarns that could be used to create textiles, and Singtex is the only textile manufacturer to win the 2010 Taiwan Excellence Award. The product is made from 98.5% recycled PET bottles and 1.5% ground coffee beans.

It is interesting to see how the humble coffee grain can lead to such innovative product designs. Obviously the above is a more commercial approach to designing with coffee grounds and I doubt our group will have the technology to create prototypes of this calibre. What we were thinking of focusing on is the many ways the coffee grounds can be used, so perhaps a range of products to showcase different benefits could be an option.

A little bit closer to home, Whatawaste is a student-run blog in Melbourne that focuses on minimising restaurant waste in the area. The group had identified problems such as customers ordering too much as a cause for the high number of food waste in landfill. It is interesting to see another student be concerned about waste as they set out to interview restaurants and thus produced designs to help combat the problem.

Possible solutions included a guidebook kit for minimising restaurant waste, segregation of waste in restaurants and raising awareness through this video. Maybe if we don’t decide on doing an actual product with coffee grains, maybe we can do something that raises awareness and has the potential to change habits.



Wang, A. 2010, Recycled Plastic is Fantastic for Taiwan Textile Firms, viewed 12/10/10 <http://www.taiwantoday.tw/ct.asp?xitem=114805&CtNode=429&gt;

projectwhatawaste, 2010, What a Waste: Reducing Food Waste in Restaurants, viewed 12/10/10 <http://projectwhatawaste.wordpress.com/&gt;

For the next stage of the assignment we have to design a solution to the problem we will be addressing in our area. Darlinghurst has many cafes and restaurants and we decided to focus on the issue of food/organic waste in the area. We weren’t sure what problem under that umbrella we specifically want to target so we had to do some research.

The Somnus Method by Lars Smedlund


The Somnus Method is an interesting invention which extracts most water content from food waste. This makes the organic waste dry and mostly odour-free and reduces the weight in garbage collection. The important benefit is the production of biogas- 30% more than wet waste. Something like this would probably be too advanced for this group task but it is an interesting invention that could have potential in the future- the result being:

A dry and relatively odour-free material


Here is an interesting campaign implemented in a workplace. As we are currently looking at the possibilities of recycling coffee grains because of the amount of cafes in Darlinghurst, this shows an interesting way of how collection and recycling can take place even in an office. Surprisingly, the program proved quite effective.

Food Waste Republic is a Singaporean site that is dedicated to raising as many issues in food wastage as possible, getting the message out to the public. This article touches on a universal issue in every supermarket or fruit store- how shoppers search for the perfect fruit leads to tonnes of organic waste. Fruit and vegetables will deteriorate over time- more so after over-handling by customers. This link raises the issue of how even the slightest mark or bruise make shoppers instinctively turn away. Interestingly, the article highlights one solution to reduce waste- using imperfect fruits into products that can be sold in store such as banana cakes and fruit juices.

fresh produce customers can be really picky


Lastly, here is a cute little coffee grounds piggy bank- made from a light and sturdy substance that is like dark brown plastic. Created by Tom Jonson, this little item is quite trendy and perhaps waste solutions could have a sense of humour or target collectors so it is not all about the same issues people grow tired of hearing over and over again.




Ziger/Snead 2007, Dry Food Waste- Somnus Method by Lars Smedlunf, viewed 09/10/2010 <http://www.zigersnead.com/current/blog/post/dry-food-waste-somnus-method-by-lars-smedlund/&gt;

Bagley D. 2009, Recycling Coffee Grounds at Work, HY-brid, viewed 09/10/2010 <http://www.hy-bridgreen.com/2009/06/recycling-coffee-grounds-at-work/&gt;

Low E. and Aw M., 2010, The Era of Supermarkets| Food Waste Republic, Secrets of a Dirty Paradise, Food Waste Republic, viewed 09/10/2010 <http://foodwasterepublic.com/category/blog/2010/03/the-era-of-supermarkets/&gt;

Ecoartware, 2000, Trendy Trash, new uses for common trash, Eco artware, viewed 09/10/2010 <http://www.eco-artware.com/newsletter/newsletter_08_00.php&gt;

Here’s a nifty little product.

Introducing the shredding coffee table. Turn your paper bills or your junk mail into a personalised decorative element for your living room! I’m not sure this is quite childproof but at least it is one product that tackles the paper waste problem in an interesting and interactive way.

While the personalised, artistic opportunities are a big selling point and niche for this product, I think there is also a potential for an informative use for this- a way to higlight the point of how much paper is being used in a specified amount of time. Certainly you would see first hand how long or how much paper it will take to completely fill the table- it makes you think how much paper really is used for seemingly wasteful purposes such as junk mail. I wonder, will this force users to try and limit the paper wastage as possible because of this (which sort of defeats the decorative purpose), or will people be too keen on the interactive, artistic element and shred more paper than needed? Perhaps that is too much of a hyperbole and I would think people will have some common sense, but you have to admit, the tactile process of turning the crank and watching your paper transform a coffee table does sound like fun.


Design*Sponge 2010, Thanks for Shredding my Paper Coffee Table, Design*Sponge, viewed 26/09/2010 <http://www.designspongeonline.com/2010/06/thanks-for-shredding-my-paper-coffee-table.html&gt;