Press releases

Launch of global platform for coffee industry players to transform 40 million tons of biowaste into business

14 May 2024
ITC News

(Geneva) – The global coffee industry generates nearly 40 million tons of biowaste each year – that’s about seven times the weight of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Instead of going to the landfill, coffee by-products can be upcycled into a wide range of products, from cosmetics to health foods, bricks and packaging.

Based on these findings – featured in a new report by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the International Coffee Organization (ICO) and the Center for Circular Economy in Coffee (C4CEC) – the Center has announced a global call for membership of coffee sector stakeholders to use circular economy approaches to open up new income and job opportunities. The goal is to gather producers, small businesses, traders, roasters and consumer-facing companies, especially in coffee-producing countries, to tap economic opportunities while addressing critical environmental concerns. The platform is also open to research partners, civil society members, impact investors and international organizations.

The report, Making a Case for Circular Economy in the Coffee Sector: Insights from the Multi-Stakeholders Working Group on Circular Economy in Coffee, includes findings of a global survey of the ITC Coffee Guide Network's Working Group on Circular Economy, involving the public and private sectors, academia and international organizations. Lack of actionable knowledge, inadequate regulatory frameworks, and low levels of both investment and public-private collaboration are the top cited challenges to implementing circular economy at scale.

Learn more about these findings and case studies in the upcoming webinar series, (Re)Generating Value Through Circular Economy in Coffee, which kicks off on 22 May.

The Center for Circular Economy in Coffee aims to address gaps by providing technical knowledge and establishing a platform for collaboration with a scientific approach. The first precompetitive platform for enhancing circular economy in the coffee sector is supported by a global network of partners: Giuseppe e Pericle Lavazza Foundation, Politecnico di Torino, the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), ICO and ITC.

To be included in the first membership round – to gain access to a global network and circular solutions – those interested can apply online by 31 May.

ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said: “Small businesses in coffee-producing countries have the most to benefit from the circular economy model, as it promotes bottom-up innovation and knowledge sharing, as well as sustainable and inclusive value chains, market access, and responsible business. We invite all coffee stakeholders to join this platform.”

ICO Executive Director Vanusia Nogueira said: “Our planet has been crying out for help for many years. We must look for solutions to environmental and economic challenges to provide a better future for the next generations. The circular economy is an excellent and innovative solution that can help farmers, governments, businesses, and consumers work together to create better jobs and income, reduce pollution and fight climate change. The Center for Circular Economy in Coffee was launched as a pre-competitive platform aiming to share experiences, lessons learned and knowledge.  The International Coffee Organization is proud to be a founding member of the C4CEC, which aligns with our mission.


Please see a short video on the Center for Circular Economy in Coffee

For more information about the Center for Circular Economy in Coffee, visit or email info [at] (info[at]circulareconomyincoffee[dot]org)


Notes to the Editor

About Fondazione Giuseppe e Pericle Lavazza OnlusCompany set up the non-profit Fondazione Giuseppe e Pericle Lavazza Onlus in 2004 to co-ordinate and implement social, environmental and economic sustainability projects in coffee-producing communities around the world; the Foundation currently supports and funds, both independently and in collaboration with public and private organizations, 33 projects in 21 countries across 3 continents in favor of over 180,000 coffee farmers.

About Politecnico di Torino – It was founded in 1906 and has its roots in the Technical School for Engineers created in 1859. It is internationally ranked among the most important universities in Europe for engineering and architecture studies, with more than 38,000 students (out of which 19% are international students coming from 120 different countries). Politecnico is a center of excellence for education and research in engineering, architecture, design and planning and it works in close cooperation with the socio-economic system. It is a comprehensive Research University where education and research complement each other and create synergies in order to address the needs of the economic system, of the local community and, above all, of its students. Politecnico is committed to a strong internationalization process of its teaching, research and technology transfer activities:  not only does it work in cooperation with the best universities and research centers in world, but it has also been signing agreements and contracts with important international corporations, as well as local businesses, meaning to be for the latter a focal point for innovation.

About the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo (UNISG)It was founded in 2004 by the international non-profit association Slow Food in cooperation with the Italian regions of Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna, is a government-recognized, private non-profit institution. Its goal is to create an international research and education center for those working on renewing farming methods, protecting biodiversity, and building an organic relationship between gastronomy and agricultural science. The university forms gastronomes, new professional figures with multi-disciplinary skills and knowledge in the fields of science, culture, politics, economics and ecology of food, working to apply them to production, distribution and sustainable consumption.

About the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)A specialized agency of the United Nations with a mandate to promote, dynamize and accelerate industrial development. It focuses on three areas: ending hunger by helping businesses from farm to fork; stopping climate breakdown by using renewable energy and energy efficiency to reduce industrial greenhouse gas emissions; and supporting sustainable supply chains so that developing country producers get a fair deal and scarce resources are preserved.

About the International Coffee Organization - Established by the first International Coffee Agreement in 1962 under the aegis of the United Nations, ICO is the only intergovernmental organization for coffee bringing together exporting and importing governments to strengthen the global coffee sector and promote its sustainable expansion in a market-based environment for the benefit of all actors in the Global Coffee Value Chain (G-CVC). The ICO flagship publication, the Coffee Development Report (CDR), focuses periodically on specific themes of key relevance to the coffee sector. The 2023 edition, to be published in September 2024, will be centred on how to make the coffee economy circular and regenerative.

About the International Trade Centre - The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

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