A few weeks ago I received an email from Max Middleweek saying…
“I hope this interests you, I’d love your feedback on a zero-waste product we’ve created. It’s made from 100% waste material (and plastic free) in Victoria.
Briki’s are sustainable coffee briquettes made from recycled waste coffee grounds diverted from landfill, and timber offcuts also diverted from landfill. Perfect for wood-stoves, indoor fireplaces, camping and pizza ovens – a better alternative to firewood we think!
Aware that you might not have a personal need for it which is ok, but would love feedback on how we can promote and build awareness of this impactful product. We could send you a box if that’s interesting to you too?”
Um, yes, I’m definitely interested in trying these out and sharing my experience because we like to camp by a fire and occasionally socialise around a backyard fire or wood heater. I’ve also relied on a wood heater for most of my life to keep warm and have had pizza ovens at some of the houses we’ve lived at. We don’t have a wood heater in the house we are currently renting or a pizza oven, but we may again in the future and I know loads of people who do. I’m sure this is something many of you will be interested in too, so let me share some more details about these Zero Impact Briki’s and my experience with you.
The goal of Zero Impact’s Briki’s is to minimise coffee waste to landfill whilst providing a sustainable alternative to firewood. Coffee grounds from cafes all over Melbourne are recycled into sustainable fuel briquettes that are made in Australia from 100% plant material, no petrochemicals, no glues and no binders. They burn hotter than coal or wood, are clean, sustainable and guilt free (also no splinters or spiders!). Each Briki burns for 45-60 minutes in a wood-stove depending on airflow.
Briki’s come packaged in 100% recycled paper packaging. You can get a large box of 24 which weighs approximately 11kg and is enough for multiple nights around your wood heater or you can get a smaller pack of 12 which weighs approximately 5.5kg – perfect for an eco-friendly gift and special occasions around the fire.
I found the briki’s worked perfectly for a camp fire (and as such, can see how’d they’d be great for a wood-fired pizza oven) but you do need to have the fire going well before you add them as they don’t catch alight quickly, like kindling does. Just ensure you have what you need to get a fire started and then use your coffee briki’s instead of wood logs.
I have to say that briki’s aren’t perfect for homes that are purely wood heated because the price currently isn’t competitive enough for the volume required, but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere and grow first. Hopefully the near future will see these briki’s become more competitive and that’s what the company hopes to achieve. They will be perfect for the odd night by the fire though.
The benefits of using coffee waste as an alternative to firewood is that it’s a pathway to a circular economy. The waste from one industry or company is used as a resource for another and nothing goes to landfill.
Demand for wood as a heat source and for electricity generation in Australia is huge. There’s estimated to be over a combined 1.5 Million wood heater and wood fireplaces, leading to a demand for firewood in excess of 6 Million tonnes per year. But there can be problems with how people source their firewood. So using the enormous amounts of coffee ground waste generated from the 6 billion cups of coffee drank by Australian’s each year (Planet Ark’s 2016 report) instead of firewood, prevents the coffee grinds from going directly to landfill where it releases methane gas as it breaks down (methane gas is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide), and more wood can stay in the environment for ecosystem benefits.