Our Story


…it truly makes the world go ‘round. At least for the team at Unspent, it does!

In 2016, Katie began her Master’s studying coffee chemistry in Emmanuel’s lab at Ohio State. That’s when she realized an astonishing fact: nearly 90% of the coffee bean turns into waste after a fresh cup of coffee is brewed. In the US alone, over 23 million pounds of spent coffee grounds are generated per day. To put that into perspective, if we collected all of that waste, it would be about the size of Lake Geneva! And when that waste is sent to landfills, it produces greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming. 

After learning this, Katie decided to pursue her PhD with the goal of finding ways to “upcycle” or add value back to this abundant waste stream.

A few years and a PhD later, Katie and Emmanuel created spent coffee epoxides (COPOXEE™) and other plastic materials from spent coffee grounds. The technology used to create the COPOXEE™ plasticizer at Unspent not only helps make use of the millions of tons of spent coffee grounds that end up in the landfill each year, but it also creates a renewable source for the production of materials, which are over 90% petroleum based today.

Utilizing this otherwise wasted food ensures that the coffee we all know and love is being recognized for its full value while limiting organic waste sent to the landfill.

Katie and Emmanuel have joined forces with Matt and Grace to create a sustainable business to supply this plasticizer to manufacturers across the US and the world. This team is working to establish spent coffee grounds as a valuable source for materials production.

To them, coffee waste is Unspent until it reaches its full potential.

Meet the Team

Kathryn Williamson, PhD

Chief Executive Officer & Cofounder

Kathryn (Katie) Williamson completed her PhD in Food Science and Technology at The Ohio State University under the guidance of Emmanuel Hatzakis in December 2021. Her PhD research focused on developing value-added products from two food processing waste streams: apple pomace and spent coffee grounds. At the start of her MS, Katie began experimenting with producing bioplastics from spent coffee grounds. After 5 years of research and development, the result is Unspent’s COPOXEE™ product.

She has two patents pending based on this technology and co-authored 7 peer-reviewed publications during her studies. Upon graduation, Katie decided to create Unspent in partnership with Emmanuel and Matt because of the great potential that this patent-pending technology has in the bioplastics industry. Her goal is to effect change to create a more sustainable food system, and she sees great potential in production of bioplastics from food waste streams such as unspent coffee.

Emmanuel Hatzakis, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer & Cofounder

Emmanuel Hatzakis is an Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University. He provides leadership to Unspent in the areas of analytical chemistry and process design. His research interests include applications of NMR Spectroscopy in Food Science, Structure Determination and Metabolomics. He is developing novel analytical tools for food evaluation, and he applies NMR spectroscopy for the discovery and characterization of compounds with high commercial and nutritional value that can be produced from low-cost sources, such as food industry waste. In addition, he uses a multi-disciplinary research approach that combines spectroscopy, metabolomics, gene expression profiles and microbial analysis to investigate the interaction between nutrition and microbiome and how this is related to health. He has been recognized as the Early Career Scientist of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology, and he has received the IUFoST/Fi Young Scientist Award of Excellence of the International Union of Food Science and Technology and Food Ingredients, and the IFT Samuel Cate Prescott Award for Research from Institute of Food Technologies.

Matt Dye

Chief Marketing Officer & Cofounder

Matt Dye is a graduate of the Ohio State University Fisher School of Business. He started his career as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and then transitioned to ecommerce where he started Aviva Pure, a manufacturer of organic personal care products. Since 2019, Matt has been an eCommerce strategist with private clients, developing and implementing their entire marketing strategy. The results have been: Fashion client revenue from $134k/mth to $3.1M/mth, Wall Art client revenue from $76k/mth to $699k/mth, Home Improvement client from $4k/mth to $283k/mth, Jewelry client revenue from $132k/month to $456k/month, and travel client revenue from $373k/month to $811k/month.

Grace Currie

Chief Operating Officer

Grace is a graduate of The Ohio State University Fisher School of Business. She started her career with two Supply Chain internships at 3M and Ford Motor Company before landing at Amazon. While at Amazon for 7 years, Grace launched two different fulfillment centers as a manager, recruited hundreds of people to Amazon Operations, and led a North American recruiting team. Grace’s main passion outside of work has always been food and she has become fascinated with the various failures of our current food system. For Grace, Unspent is combining her passion for food with her keen skill for building and operating, and she is excited at the chance to make our world a better place.

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