Food waste is a huge global problem. In fact, research shows that in the U.S. almost 30 million tons of food are thrown out every year. Thankfully, as more people become aware of this monumental issue, innovative solutions for reusing waste surface every day.

For example, both home cooks and restaurants have started composting their food scraps. Unfortunately, while by products, like coffee grinds, can be used for fertilizer, much of it is often left to rot. At last, that’s what Chef Jason Wilson found to be the case when his restaurants tried to reuse the grounds. Instead of scrapping the entire effort, Wilson and his colleagues figured out a unique solution: turning the pulp leftover from coffee bean shells into flour!

That’s right. As executive chef of Coffee Flour Lab, Wilson, along with his team, now spend their days perfecting the product and using it to make things you would never expect could be made from coffee, like pasta, balsamic dressing, charred eggplant dip, crispy beer batter, and surprisingly enough, tea. The flour, which can be substituted for all-purpose flour, is super nutritious too! It yields more iron per gram than fresh spinach and more fiber per gram than whole-wheat flour, nutrients that otherwise would have gone to waste in a trash bin!

What started off as a desire to use an ingredient no other restauranteurs were using quickly blossomed into something deeper for Wilson. He felt that he had stumbled upon an idea that could have an incredible impact by transforming an enormous waste byproduct into a global benefit. And he’s right, if every restaurant adapted this practice, millions of pounds of waste could be saved every day!

The flour, technically a dried fruit powder, wouldn’t just benefit the environment and public health either. Wilson and the company’s founders believe that this could also be a “game-changer” for the economies of coffee-growing countries. The goal is for 30 percent of the flour to stay in its country of origin, where workers can benefit economically. Plus, the bags used for transporting the coffee flour are about one-third of the weight of coffee-bean bags, making the jobs more accessible to women.

Coffee Flour has drawn in a number of early investors. For now, the flour is used in Google’s cafes and was featured in a dinner series made entirely from waste products at renowned chef Dan Barber’s Blue Hill restaurant, but many businesses have expressed interest in experimenting with the unique product. With such a great mission, we hope that they will and that this kind of thinking will inspire others to think up creative solutions for food waste! We need all of the ideas we can get!