Cork students turn organic waste into a tidy profit

The idea of turning waste into fertiliser came to them last September after their teacher, Anthony Malone, suggested they visit a local coffee shop for a think-in session over a cuppa
Cork students turn organic waste into a tidy profit

Good2grow student entrepreneurs are, L/R: William Herdman, Riyan Thomas John, Celestine Soji, Chris Thomas, Dany Siby, Hassan Mannan, Amanat Baig. Not pictured is Mamoon Ahmed.

A team of teenage entrepreneurs from Cork city hope to collect one of UCC’s top enterprise awards in March for their business idea that turns organic waste into profits.

The eight Transition Year students from Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh in Bishopstown are Hassan Mannan, Celestine Soji, Amanat Baig, William Herdman, Chris Thomas, Mamoon Ahmed, Dany Siby, and Riyan Thomas John. Together they are the founders of an environmentally friendly company called Good2grow.

The idea of turning waste into fertiliser came to them last September after their teacher, Anthony Malone, suggested they visit a local coffee shop for a think-in session over a cuppa.

Spying a barista throwing away a tub of coffee grounds, the quick-thinking youngsters researched what purposes the grounds could be put to, and what they found got their imaginations firing. The grounds contain magnesium, calcium, potassium, and other trace minerals that are perfect for making fertiliser.

CEO of Good2grow, Hassan Mannan, said they went to local garden centres to research the business plan.

“We went out to the local gardeners in town, like Cork Rooftop Farm and Deep Route Gardening,” he said. “They told us we should add more ingredients to our product. They recommended some. We did a bit of research and we added others, recycled coffee grounds, seaweed powder, earthworm castings and Epsom salt.

“We are dedicated to creating a 100 percent eco-friendly fertiliser for your plants. The products are verified by local gardeners.”

Where there’s muck, there’s brass, they say, but it’s hard work. The young entrepreneurs collect the ingredients from Cork’s coffee shops, and then dry it out in ovens. After it’s dried out, it has to be powdered to the team’s specifications, and then it’s weighed out per box, and mixed with the other ingredients, including seaweed bought from a local company.

“The coffee grounds take about an hour to dry out. After that, it’s just mixing and packaging,” said Hassan.

“We are not in any retailers yet, but we’re in talks with some of the local coffee stores and garden centres. We do go out to local markets like the Coal Quay market. We were at the Credit Union Christmas Market.”

The packaging consists of a brown cardboard box with the ‘Good2grow’ label, and resembles a noodle box, with instructions on how to use it. One box is €5, and weighs 300 grams.

“Our fertiliser is very strong so it gives you a lot of uses,” said Hassan.

Good2grow has already beaten off stiff competition from over 40 companies at the Student Enterprise Trade Fair in Cork city’s Marina Market to win Best Overall Mini Company.

On March 14, UCC will host a student enterprise awards event in the Devere Hall. If Good2grow win there, they will go on to the national finals.

The ambitious young business people also have their eyes set on the Cork City County Final, the winners of which receive a two-week trip to Colorado to savour the sights on a business development scholarship.

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