News

Coffee Grounds Yield Big Profits for Taiwan Company

Coffee grounds shown in a customer's coffee cup at a shop in Tel Aviv, Israel. (file photo)
Coffee grounds shown in a customer's coffee cup at a shop in Tel Aviv, Israel. (file photo)

Coffee grounds have helped turned a once struggling Taiwan firm into a thriving business - one that reports annual earnings of more than $6.6 million.

Since 2009, Singtex Industrial Company of New Taipei City has taken the waste from two major coffee store chains, for free, and used it to make shoes, jackets, pants and handbags.

The company says coffee grounds cut odors, help fabrics dry faster than normal and resist ultraviolet light. The came from the existing use of coffee grounds as odor eaters, says Singtex brand manager Chiang Po-wei.

People normally consider coffee grounds as garbage, he says, but they can actually be used effectively to cut odors in shoe cabinets, even refrigerators and smoking areas. Chiang says taking that idea to the next level, Singtex spent four years carrying out research to make it work in fabrics.

Singtex was founded in 1989 and ventured into China in the 1990s to cut manufacturing costs until the company found that its poorly trained workers were making low-quality fabrics. After pulling out of China, Chief Executive Officer Jason Chen decided to go up market, using his staff of 220 to make more expensive fabrics with a pro-environmental focus. He has done that since 1994.

One day when Chen and his wife, who is also his business partner, were drinking coffee, they began wondering whether the grounds could be used in fabrics to absorb odors. In 2006, the firm’s staff began to do research.

Today Singtex uses coffee grounds as 1.5 percent of its fabrics, with polyester as the main material. That calls for 500 kilograms of grounds per day at its Taiwan factory, which produced 10 million yards of fabric last year. That number is rising as the firm’s 100 clients want more coffee in their clothes. Clients include the shoemaker Asics, outdoor clothier Timberland and women’s underwear designer Wacoal.

Sasa Kung, the marketing manager for Timberland in Taipei, says stores around the world have raised curiosity by displaying clothing tags marked “S.Cafe,” the Singtex label. Timberland stores in Asia sell 2,000 coffee-enhanced items per year.

She says customers find it interesting to learn that coffee can be used in material for clothing or shoes, which increases their willingness to buy. She explains to customers that coffee grounds are already worked into the fabric and that the odor resistance and dilution capabilities are always inside.

The only catch is that no one can smell the coffee. It Is not even visible on the clothes. The ingredient also has little effect on prices, the Timberland manager says. But it has brought Singtex so much of a profit that the company will not state the amount in fear of stirring up jealous rivals.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Belle
May 07, 2012 7:17 AM
This is so cool. I think coffee is only useful for helping us stay up late.

by: Le Ngoc Quang
May 06, 2012 6:28 PM
Great! try to do research for reality to human as man-made fabrics usage

by: Cao
May 06, 2012 3:31 PM
Wonderful idea ! I hope my country will have more research to find many way to save the environment like this .
And this is also a good way to get benefit , good way to marketing for their products

by: Jack
May 05, 2012 4:50 PM
I like the story!! Everything on earth is useful actually. They just waiting us to find out how to use it. We should cherish all the resources around our life, even it was treated as a waste before It is good to see this environmental friendly product in Taiwan, it's brilliant :D

by: Shane
May 05, 2012 2:52 AM
This is a great story. I write a great deal about using coffee grounds and it is really good to see other trying to do something about the almost limitless quantities of the stuff available.
Best of luck with it - groundtoground.org

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs