Wow that is so awesome that my green tea latte is going to become a hair dryer. (Photo by Daniel R. Blume.)

You know when you’re watching a movie with a really bad screenplay, and to show that a character (generally female) is super annoying, they have her go into a Starbucks and order something like a triple foam half-caf no fat sugar-free hazelnut etc.? Well, this cinematic trope is officially dead, because now that character isn’t a demanding harpy. She’s a humanitarian. Because now the waste generated by her drink is going to be recycled into useful stuff like plastic and laundry detergent.

Over a billion tons of food waste is put into landfills each year. Starbucks Hong Kong, where Starbucks is giving the program a try, generates about 5,000 tons, and the company is hoping they can come up with something a little more creative and sustainable than the current plan of incineration, composting, or disposal. The plan is a partnership between nonprofit organization The Climate Group and Carol S.K. Lin, a biorefinery scientist (biorefinery scientists specialize in biomass conversion processes, by the way) at the City University of Hong Kong.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

This plan was announced at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, which we were going to make fun of as a bunch of money-hungry polluters until we actually read about it and saw that it was totally cool. Plus, chemists almost certainly drink a lot of coffee, which now gives you major karma points.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!