Coffee grounds for gardens

Making a difference, one coffee at a time

We drink a lot of coffee! Coffee is now the dominant hot drink in Australia, with more than 2.1 billion cups bought from cafes and other vendors in 2013.

After all those cups of coffee, espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes have been made, there's a mountain of coffee grounds left behind. Unfortunately, most of it gets tossed into the waste bin and hauled off to landfill.

We are encouraging coffee shops to recycle their coffee grounds. The Coffee Grounds for Gardens program is based on the encouraging the use of coffee grounds for use in gardens. With our program, coffee shops can:

  • recycle internally (grounds utilised by the store staff)
  • establish a local connection (eg a community garden or school to collect the grounds)
  • make coffee grounds available for members of the community to collect
  • organise an organics recycling collection by a waste management company.

Some wonderful links in our community have been forged over coffee grounds: All Saints Catholic Primary School collects coffee grounds in the Seaford area for use in the school garden and Elizabeth House Positive Ageing Centre also collects from several outlets in Port Noarlunga and uses the grounds in their community garden and orchard. 

Who is recycling their coffee grounds?

There are now nearly forty coffee outlets in the Onkaparinga area recycling their coffee grounds. Look out for our Coffee grounds for gardens signs at participating stores, or click here for a list of their locations.

How coffee can add to your garden:

  • Coffee is a great source of nitrogen - a much needed plant fertiliser. The nitrogen in coffee grounds is the kind that needs to break down in the soil before being released, so it ends up feeding a slow and steady drip of fertiliser to your plants.
  • The nitrogen in coffee nicely balances the addition of "brown" materials (leaves, straw and cardboard) in a compost heap.
  • In addition to nitrogen, coffee grounds also contain magnesium and copper in just the right amounts to be beneficial to your plants.
  • Coffee grounds act as an effective repellent against slugs, snails, ants and cats when sprinkled around your garden.

Earthworms and compost worms LOVE coffee grounds, so you can add coffee grounds to your worm farm as well!

If you are a coffee shop or store that makes coffee and would like more information about the program or how to get involved, contact our Waste & Recycling Education Officer on (08) 8384 0666.