Coffee farmers in Nicaragua are generating biogas and promoting eco-friendly environmental practices. Wastewater treatment systems and solid waste management plants have been installed in eight coffee farms in the country. Promoted by UTZ Certified, the Sustainable Energy and Coffee Waste Management project is helping to produce biogas, mitigate climate change and protect water resources.
Tailor-made coffee wastewater treatment systems and solid-waste treatment mechanisms were installed in eight coffee farms in Nicaragua, ten in Honduras and one in Guatemala. The positive environmental and economic impact of the project on over 5,000 people in the region has inspired UTZ Certified to replicate the initiative in other countries.
Additionally, coffee wastewater comes along with tonnes of organic waste and high toxicity, which UTZ said affects the soil and generates considerable amounts of greenhouse-gas emissions, particularly methane, heavily contributing to climate change.
The organisation said that the project has been implemented in a range of differently sized farms, and achieved results ranging from preventing local deforestation to better indoor environments for families who replaced firewood with domestic gas stoves for cooking.
Additional outcomes included:
- Treatment of essentially all water used in coffee processing
- Over 50% less water used during coffee processing
- Generation of significant amount of biogas used to power households and coffee mills
- Prevention of the release of greenhouse-gas emissions into the atmosphere
How to produce biogas and reduce pollution
Biogas typically refers to a mixture of gases produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Biogas can be produced from regionally available raw materials such as recycled waste. It is a renewable energy source and in many cases exerts a very small carbon footprint.
Biogas is produced by anaerobic digestion with anaerobic bacteria or fermentation of biodegradable materials such as manure, sewage, municipal waste, green waste, plant material, and crops. It is primarily methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) and may have small amounts of hydrogen sulphide (H2S), moisture and siloxanes.
The gases methane, hydrogen, and carbon monoxide (CO) can be combusted or oxidized with oxygen. This energy release allows biogas to be used as a fuel; it can be used for any heating purpose, such as cooking. It can also be used in a gas engine to convert the energy in the gas into electricity and heat.