Although owning a Keurig is convenient, the single-serve plastic coffee pods have a drastic environmental impact. Inevitably, consumers use plastic coffee pods once and then discard them into landfills. Allegedly, the amount of K-cups that have been discarded into the landfills could wrap the planet more than ten times. Nespresso introduces a more sustainable solution: recyclable coffee pods.
A More Sustainable Coffee Pod
Nespresso has created a different kind of single-serve coffee pod made out of aluminum, which can be recycled continuously. It even encourages pod recycling by providing a recycling bag to consumers, which they can use to return up to 200 used capsules for recycling, free of charge.
Nespresso has been involved in sustainability efforts since starting their first recycling program in 1991, and has continued to pursue higher levels of sustainability, with a goal of reaching 100% pod recycling by 2020.
Now, Nespresso’s next step in sustainability is an invite to other coffee manufacturers to join their recycling program. The Nespresso Sustainability Advisory Board (NSAB) also supported this motion at their annual meeting in Geneva.
It’s idea? If other coffee companies switch to aluminum, then the coffee industry can eventually become a completely waste-free enterprise.
Nespresso’s CEO, Jean-Marc Duvoisin, said: “Aluminum is a valuable material and is infinitely recyclable. We [invite] other companies to join our system, we hope to offer a solution for the whole category.” Duvoisin additionally adds that this “decision is aligned with our global initiatives to shape a waste-free future and drive behavior change toward a circular economy.”
According to Nespresso, their recycled coffee pods have a variety of uses, from car engines and computers to cans. Nespresso typically puts its leftover coffee grounds to good use too, using them to produce natural fertilizer.
Opening this recycling program to their competitors opens several doors, as most countries do not have a public recycling system that allows for items such as coffee pods, as these products are simply too light for collection to be viable. As companies like Nespresso make recycling both more accessible and practical, other companies are likely going to follow suit.
Nespresso’s use of responsibly-sourced aluminum and the implementation of a widespread recycling program sounds commendable. However, like any other green initiative, we’ll have to see how it works out.
Madeline is a writer for the Energy section at The Rising and a Environmental Sustainability and Psychology student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.