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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
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 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 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 US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
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.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs