Officers of Krakow's park and greenery authority scatter coffee grounds to remove ice in Planty Park, Source: Bogusław Świerzowski /

Krakow replaces salt with coffee grounds for de-icing

Krakow replaces salt with coffee grounds for de-icing

The idea was borrowed from Lviv, its Ukrainian sister city

One of the most loathed effects of snow on urban environments is the mess it makes and the effort it takes to clean it. Salt and sand are widely used to help it melt faster and make icy surfaces walkable. But the Polish city of Krakow might have a better idea – a more sustainable one that is less likely to ruin your shoes and your dog’s paws – replacing salt with coffee grounds.

The multiple benefits of using coffee for ice removal

This winter, ice management will look different in Krakow. The second-largest Polish city, inspired by its sister city in Ukraine, Lviv, decided to approach the problem differently, hoping for multiple benefits.

From 8 February, the city’s green authority started collecting used coffee grounds from local cafés. Due to its abrasive properties, the material can be used to maintain paths and alleys in local parks. Thus, instead of turning into waste, the derivate of your favourite drink can be used for de-icing and fertilizing soil naturally, believe Krakow authorities.

In the first days of collection, over 50 coffee establishments collected coffee ground upon the invitation by the Green Authority. The experiment is being conducted in Planty Park which encircles the Old Town, in the section from the Andrzej Wajda to the Barbican. Residents can already decide for themselves whether this solution is effective, while you can see how it looks in the gallery above.

On top of waste reduction, the campaign has additional ecological value as it minimizes the use of salt for winter maintenance of alleys and pavements in cities. The City of Krakow reminds that it is forbidden to use salt in the areas of parks and lawns and maintenance contractors might be penalized for breaching this rule.

For their part, the employees of the Municipal Cleaning Enterprise use salt only on roadways and try not to place it in the vicinity of green areas. Only calcium chloride and sand are used in the Old Town area.

The local authorities in Ursynów district of Warsaw have also started experimenting this, as Notes from Poland has reported. Same goes for Wojkowice, a town near Katowice, which has invited local cafés to donate. The Polish blog, however, pointed out concerns voiced by ecologists, who believe that coffee grounds might have a toxic effect on the soil and worms.

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