London Buses Run on Bio-Bean

Bio-Bean, a British startup, has started to partner with companies such as Shell and Argent Energy to create a coffee-based diesel fuel to be used in London’s various busses. In 2013 the company was founded by Arthur Kay and is the first company that aspires to industrialize the process of recycling waste coffee grounds into biofuels and chemicals.

The company does not believe in waste; just misplaced resources that they strive to produce into clean fuel. On their website, Bio-bean states that “spent coffee grounds are highly calorific and contain valuable compounds, making them an ideal feed stock from which to produce clean fuels.” The startup saw potential to create this fuel from the 500,000 tons of coffee grounds in UK landfills and an opportunity to help save the environment by reducing the amount of methane, a greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere.

In previous years, the company produced various products such as the “Coffee Log”, (£7.99 or about $10.75) a product used to sustainably heat homes. The log works by packing together 25 cups of ground coffee into a block of material that has been measured to produce “about 20% more energy than wood” (Bio-Bean). Currently, the startup is taking its goals a step forward and is planning to turn coffee waste into a clean fuel to be tested in  the public transit network of London.

As of November 20th, 2017, The company has produced a total of 6,000 liters of coffee oil and, with the help of the London Transit Authority, planed to power one London bus for a year to test for efficiency. Bio-Bean collects coffee waste from various cafes, restaurants, and factories in the area, then sends the wastes to a recycling plant. There the grounds are dried before the coffee oil can be extracted. The coffee oil is then blended with other fuels and oils to produce B20 Bio-fuel (20% bio-components) which can be used in diesel buses and vehicles without additional modifications. Use of this fuel costs significantly less than the use of traditional diesel fuels and allows for a cleaner environment.

It is always interesting to see how a small project such as Bio-Bean develops and progresses with time. The creation of the coffee log was unique as it introduced recycled coffee as a way to heat a home. The new deal with Shell and Argent takes this small startup to the next level. As they create this futuristic fuel, many could call into question its ability to be used in society. There are many other alternatives that attempt to reduce the emission of harmful gases, such as electric cars, but unfortunately are making small changes in the environment. Thus, it will be fascinating to see if Bio-Bean will be a leader in making the planet healthier

Bio-bean is not the first company to pursue an interest in alternative fuel sources. Many other companies have seen the potential for the successful adaptation of bio-fuel and have implemented it in many ways that are both similar and different to what Bio-Bean attempts to do.

In 2017, a company by the name of Fiberight began construction on a facility with the intention of converting “trash and in some cases corn stalks or wheat straw” (Barney)  into a form of bio-fuel. This company, while also focusing on recycling, has set a goal of “transforming… solid waste and other organic feed stocks into next generation renewable bio-fuels with cellulosic ethanol as the core product” (Barney).

Another company working towards a similar goal is Plastic2Oil. This company, while doing essentially what the name entails, combats liter while producing an “ultra-clean, ultra low sulphur fuel” (Barney). The company is able to take on two problems with one solution. This is done by utilizing liter and other waste in their production of fuel. In doing so, there is an “economic benefit” for the government and other organizations as litter becomes less of an issue. The company tends to have around an 86% success rate when creating this fuel from litter and for every 8.3 pounds of litter collected one gallon of fuel is able to be produced.

Despite London’s goal of an emission-free transport network by 2050, as of time of writing, Bio- Bean has no formal agreement to continue using its coffee based fuel in London buses. The company is currently looking for new markets and for ways to continue to innovate. Recently in a written statement, the company set its sights on America as “there is huge potential to expand the project into the U.S, which drinks the most coffee on the planet, 400 million cups a day” (Bio-Bean).


Disney: A Magical Rival to Netflix

Disney CEO Robert A. Iger recently announced Netflix-style streaming services.

After a reported 9 percent drop in net income and a slight decline in revenue, it became apparent to Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, that a drastic shift in strategy was needed. Disney announced two unnamed streaming services, one based upon Disney and Pixar films along with Disney channel programs, the other based upon sports using programing from ESPN.

Both services will be powered by BamTech, a direct-to-consumer video known for work with HBO and other established streaming services. Last year Disney paid $1 Billion for a 33% stake in BamTech. Recently Mr. Iger announced that Disney would pay $1.58 Billion for an additional 42% share in the company.

Disney’s switch to an online outlet seems likely to lead to conflict with Netflix, who currently has access to many Disney and Pixar films and television shows, as well as cable providers who pay Disney for access to ESPN and related networks. Iger feels that Disney is able to maintain favorable deals with them.

While the switch to an online streaming service may seem late compared to other companies such as CBS, Iger feels that they are making the jump at the perfect time as they have “an unrivaled connection to their audience- especially children, who are a huge driver for streaming services.”

Disney’s first proposed streaming service is set to arrive in early spring 2018 and will include sports, such as baseball, hockey, and tennis as well as college sports for a total of about 10,000 regional and national events in the first year. The service will be accessed through an updated version of the current ESPN app, consumers of ESPN on cable or satellite will also be given access to the app.

A separate streaming service will arrive in 2019. Disney has announced that this service will provide direct to consumer access to both old and new Disney films such as the upcoming “Frozen” sequel, “Toy Story 4” and the live-action “Lion King”. Disney typically does not make its movies available for long periods of time, instead relying on “The Disney Vault,” the idea that Disney will release a movie for a limited time and then not sell the film until it is re-released years later.

This new streaming service would change Disney’s formula of releasing content by making everything available to subscribers. This drastic change could cause harm to Netflix, who currently has rights to new Disney-branded disney films. Disney plans to take these rights back eventually.

The new service would not only feature films, but also all current and future television programs found on Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Disney XD would be made available. Iger states that Disney will make a “significant” investment in original movies and shows for the service, much like many other services such as HBO and Netflix have done in the past.

Disney, who also owns labels such as Marvel and Lucasarts (Star Wars) has decided to include these labels in their service as well. However, shows currently produced by Disney Marvel studios such as “Jessica Jones” will still be available on netflix.

Disney will no longer be releasing new content to theaters. Instead, new films will be added directly to the proposed streaming service. An idea that seems detrimental to the success of movie theaters as Disney films typically bring in a large profit.

The amount that subscribers would have to pay for these services is still up in the air. Mr. Iger has discussed perhaps focusing on “dynamic format” almost seeming like a pay-per-view system in which the consumer will pay based on how often they use the streaming service.

Despite analysts responding well to the proposed service, Disney’s stock price declined 4 percent to about $102.95. This could have been the result of poor quarter results, however it is apparent that Disney is facing difficulty keeping its programming relevant as traditional subscription for ESPN continues to decline (3.5 percent in the most recent quarter).

Disney’s financial decline seems to come from several sources. Disney Media Networks (ESPN) reported a 22 percent decline in operating income after a new contract with the National Basketball Association. Disney’s studio also reported an operating income decline of 17% due to a this year’s set of released films not being as successful as the previous years.

Could this new approach to media that other companies have found success in be exactly what Disney needs to make up for a lackluster year? Or are they too late to the party? Based on what they have announced so far, I could see this new service being successful for Disney. They have a large fan base and with Disney films as well as Star Wars and Marvel films being released directly to consumers, there is a large incentive to pay for a subscription. This new service could compete with Netflix and the other streaming service but, It depends on exactly what Iger comes up with and if he can find enough content to satisfy consumers that are already loyal to the likes of streaming giants Netflix, Hulu, and HBO GO.