These days, it is especially easy to overlook coffee’s carbon footprint, particularly with the notion of sustainable farming on the rise. And as consumers purchase coffee machines to brew their cup of joe at home, coffee capsules are becoming a part of the sustainability equation too. These days, roughly 60 billion coffee capsules are produced yearly. And once they’re used, capsules are usually just tossed. Not ideal, but bigger name brands are hardly doing anything about it. On the other hand, Halo Coffee, a startup founded in 2016, looks to gain market share in the huge coffee industry while making no compromises on sustainability. Instead of plastic, the company’s capsules are compatible with popular Nespresso machines, except they’re also the world’s first 100% compostable capsules. These sugarcane-based capsules decompose within 90 days, as opposed to their more known competitors that sit around for 200 years.
Companies are taking greenwashing to a different level. Articles on sustainability will, more often than not, feature National Geographic-worthy snapshots of lush green rainforests bearing high-quality coffee. Instead of having consumers focus on specific, real initiatives, companies often do whatever they can to just appear eco-conscious to the market. Unfortunately for them, people are starting to draw the line.
Then again, there’s the issue of loose terminology. Everyone, including business operators, have their own definitions of sustainability: “industrial compostability,” biodegradability — the list goes on. But for these businesses to make the big claims they’re making is dangerous. What if the promise of sustainability is false? Andrea Fox says “you have to do investigative journalism to make sure you’re actually doing the right thing” on her latest episode with company execs on The Age of Plastic. People are exhausted enough thinking about climate change, and unclear opinions and claims only make it more painful.
“Halo exists because compromise shouldn’t.” That’s the first line of the company’s mission statement. But a bit later, the company transparently discusses their capsules’ minimal environmental impact. The origins of the coffee are definitely important to consider, but think of the next step. Ultimately, the side effects of machinery and non-renewable materials will burn these origins to the ground. Sacrificing the planet for convenience will not solve anything long-term. Halo’s capsules are important; coffee drinkers will still have their fast-paced lives, but not at the expense of the planet.
And the company recognizes that coffee isn’t the only kitchen staple. Popular food items like tea, salt and chocolate face the same problems with sustainability. In the long run, Halo is looking to create solutions that are just as effective for products like these as well.
When sustainability becomes a business’s main focus, the quality of the product itself is always called to question. Halo, however, is just as committed to sourcing top ingredients. It’s ironic that people genuinely want clean products while many companies have yet to take action. In the long run, only those who make continuous efforts like Halo will get ahead, in both the market and the planet, as consumers continue to keep sustainability in their minds while making purchasing decisions.