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KaFsimo–Active citizenship by recycling coffee! | Civic Europe
Environment and sustainability, Social inclusion

KaFsimo–Active citizenship by recycling coffee!

Through our favorite habit- drinking coffee-and its recycling, we raise awareness of food waste and empower citizens to make lasting environmental improvements by small changes to daily behavior.


Who is behind this?

Mara Angelidou

InCommOn - Innovative Communities Onwards



Idea pitch

KaFsimo is a community coffee-recycling project that addresses waste, environmental responsibility and social inclusion.
Objectives:change consumer behavior; provide social and economic inclusion; encourage active citizenship. KaFsimo collects used coffee grounds from cafes and converts them into bioenergy. While in experimental phases, it has had a significant social, economic and environmental impact.Vulnerable individuals are trained and employed, providing economic and social inclusion.

Where will your project idea take place?

Thessaloniki and Kilkis (Northern Greece)

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

While there are many social challenges, the lack of initiatives to empower people and use their skills for social change is the specific issue that KaFsimo tackles.
A lack of collective social and environmental responsibility and a lack of empowerment
and awareness that each person can contribute to change is the single biggest
social challenge. Despite high levels of political protest, there is little
action to constructively empower people to change their own habits, educate
each other and develop skills to instill the self confidence in citizens that
they can change things and inspire others. There is a lack of self-awareness in
the ability and power of ‘ordinary’ people to ‘be the change’ and a strong
sense of powerlessness, particularly among the younger generation.

Who are you doing it for?

The broad target group is everyone who drinks coffee, and through their behavior change, the wider public of Greece.
The specific key target groups are:
1. café owners and staff (who we collect used coffee from and are trained about organic waste management and also how to engage with the public in their cafes, on issues of consumption and waste)
2. young people – a demographic that has the potential to make lasting change but has not been given the tools to think critically, engage in collective social actions which lead to the development of a social conscience, or the encouragement to work cooperatively rather than competitively.
3. vulnerable individuals who have limited opportunities for social and economic integration, who receive training and employment through the project.

How do you plan to get there?

KaFsimo has completed a 1 year experimentation and pilot phase in two cities, with 70 cafes, a wide range of public interest (following high profile press coverage) and ongoing experimentation on bioenergy production as well as the creation of a smart algorithm for the electric vehicle used to collect used coffee. Unique to Greece, the project has already overcome numerous hurdles in reaching this stage and intends to replicate the project in other cities and adapt the knowledge for use on other organic waste, expand the network and apply the smart algorithm to a wider area. In this way, the intended social change will be effected by a wider audience accessing the project and engaging with it in a way that helps them make changes and become multipliers in their communities.
In order to reach these aims the project will:

-increase the number of participating cafes (increasing the coffee grounds collected, training more staff, reaching more of the public)
-work with schools and universities to encourage critical thinking and innovation on issues of environmental sustainability and social change
-work with municipalities on policy change
-work collaboratively with communities on active citizenship
-engage in sustained public education
-adapt the smart algorithm to be used in more cities
-scale-up production of bioenergy

What are the expected results?

The project will create immediate results in decreasing CO2 emissions, decreasing organic waste in landfill and reducing costs of municipal waste management. In the long term, the project is expected to encourage active citizenship by instilling a new approach to consumption and use of organic products as a collective social aim. With the ‘input’ into the economy of the coffee ‘waste’ as well as the ‘Staramaki straws’ (a by-product of wheat), used in the cafes in exchange for their used coffee, these items of economic and environmental ‘waste’ become new ‘inputs’ into a circular economy. Through education and the public’s engagement with these items in practice, social change (in the form of citizen empowerment) will result over the long term via individual behavior change.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

The project was developed through consultation and participative design. Community members are part of the creation and running of the project. It strengthens active citizenship by employing community members and training local businesses to deal better with organic waste and by empowering staff to educate others.The presence in a community of an environmentally conscious café, increases active citizenship in general as it demonstrates that each individual can make a difference. The project doesn’t deliver ‘ready’ solutions to citizens, but rather encourages them to think about the issues of consumption and social engagement, using coffee as the ‘key’. In this way it promotes critical thinking about society, power, advocacy and the capacity of individuals and groups to bring about change.

Why is this idea important to you?

Most team members are from the cities in which the project runs .The team comprises:an urban development specialist, a chemical engineer, an accountant, an environmental analyst, a geospatial analyst, a community relations manager and a driver. Two are from vulnerable communities. The civic landscape is characterized by a lack of active citizenship and empowerment, but a civic environment capable of self-mobilization in times of crisis. This area bore a huge weight of the refugee crisis in 2015-16. Despite the difficult economic situation, the people of this region self-organized to provide effective help. Thus, despite a lack of a sustained ‘civil society’, there is huge social capital. This idea builds on this strength to offer tools for civic engagement and social and economic change

€ 77100,-

Total budget

€ 27500,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Coffee waste collection electric vehicle expenses €1200
Upgrading equipment €7000
Community engagement (5 community workshops, 4 school/university workshops and sustained community outreach) €8100
Salaries for coffee collection (includes community engagement through collection/ networking/processing) €5600
Salaries for coordination and project management (including planning and supervising community involvement) €5600

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We hope that our idea inspires and interests you! We are constantly learning, innovating, developing and improving and would therefore be grateful for any comments or feedback about our project. Thank you!



Idea created on April 22, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

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