Fergus said: “We were both working in the hospitality sector and we were tasked with coming up with an idea that had social or environmental elements to it.
“Given that we were already working in cafes, we were seeing firsthand the amount of coffee grounds that went to waste.”
Now the company is competing in the final stage of the Chivas Venture competition being held in Amsterdam in May, where they will be up against businesses from 20 countries for a share of the $1m prize fund.Scott and Fergus, both in their twenties, process the used coffee grounds collected from cafes and restaurants across Edinburgh and Glasgow, so that the distilled chemicals can be used in haircare and beauty products as an alternative to palm oil – production of which is said to be responsible for around 8 percent of the world’s deforestation between 1990 and 2008.
With the help of a £235,00 injection from Zero Waste Scotland’s Circular Economy Investment Fund they have built a temporary demonstration unit – where heat pumps extract the chemicals from the grounds – in Glasgow which processes around five kilos of grounds per hour.
The data produced will help them build an industrial scale unit in the near future that will process around 100 kilos per hour.
Fergus said: “Around 20 per cent of the raw coffee grounds produce the chemicals we can extract and the chemical output is slightly higher than you would get from palm.
“Making a cup of coffee is probably the least valuable thing you could do with coffee grounds.”
The pair are working with a German research institute to develop the process and while they have secured a small number of cosmetic manufacturers in the UK, they hope to reach a global market, selling their product to pharmaceutical companies and eventually creating their own range of products.
Fergus said: “The best way to get into the market is to sell the different chemicals as ingredients to cosmetics companies and household product companies but in the future we’ll start developing our own products.”
Since starting, Revive Eco have processed around 20 pounds of grounds which is ‘very much a drop in the ocean’ according to Fergus.
He said: “There’s around 40,000 tonnes in Scotland alone every year that goes to landfill. Sustainability is massive to us. It’s what’s driven us through the various obstacles as we know there’s an opportunity to create a massive impact from what we’re doing.”
“The more we’ve grown the more we’ve seen that business can be an amazing tool to bring about environmental and social change.”
Scott and Fergus will represent Scotland and Northern Ireland in the competition run by Chivas Regal to support businesses who are ‘solving the world’s biggest social and environmental issues. Prizes include a share of the $1m fund and expert coaching at the Chivas Venture Accelerator programme.
Participants will pitch their business to a panel of judges before the winners are selected, with the top six companies sharing the prize money.
Scott said: “We were delighted to have been selected to progress from the regional final. We know the standard of businesses competing in the finals will be hugely impressive, and we are relishing the opportunity of pitching alongside them. As an early stage company, it is fantastic to be recognised by an organisation like Chivas Venture and be given the platform to share our story and our vision on a global stage.”