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Why making compost is hard grind

It’s been hard grind, but the results are worth it. Coffee king Dean Merlo’s bio-cup program is helping tackle Brisbane’s waste woes.


Merlo Coffee outlets in Indooroopilly, Paddington, Toowong and St Lucia have helped divert 37 tonnes of cups, lids, grinds and food waste from going to landfill since January.

Up to three million of its takeaway cups and lids have instead been used in greening projects

at roadsides, housing estates, parks and gardens.

Merlo’s 16 cafes have together created 1000sq m, or 660 tonnes, of garden-ready compost since the scheme began. 

“That’s enough to cover about 22ha,” founder and owner Dean Merlo said.

“And it’s saving millions of cups from ending up in landfill.”

These were collected along with the food waste and coffee grinds at each outlet and taken to organics recycler NuGrow at Ipswich.

Its process took about eight weeks to turn the discards into compost.

BioPak CEO Gary Smith said he was amazed at what had been achieved in less than 12 months.

“It will serve to help governments decide on sustainable solutions going forward. It’s real results – not talk and trials,” Mr Smith said.

NuGrow Chief Strategy Officer, Peter Thompson, said Merlo was the first Queensland coffee business to take on BioPak’s circular composting program.

“We are starting to see more companies looking for ways to be greener, driven by community

expectations, but leadership in this area is incredibly important to drive change,” he said.



Article: O'Malley, Brendan, (2019), Merlo Coffee saves 37 tonnes of cups, lids, grinds from going to landfill in one year, Quest News, 31 October 2019,