Home compostable coffee pods

Billions of Nespresso pods go to landfill

By S Haslam

Traditional Nespresso pods are a combination product (they are made of aluminium, plastics and organic matter), which makes them extremely difficult to actually recycle – despite the theoretical possibilities.  Billions of them end up in landfill each year, along with approximately 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups which, with rare exceptions, are not 100% paper and therefore are not recyclable, despite the nice logo on the side.

Nespresso pods don’t break down easily in landfill. This hasn’t deterred the owners of Nespresso machines, however; this is a very large market and it is expected to grow, driven by Australian consumers’ desire to get the ‘café experience’ at home.

A number of producers have responded to this by producing ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’ Nespresso-compatible pods. However they are rarely fully compostable.

For example, Urban Brew ‘biodegradable’ pods are not compostable, even in our Byron Shire green bin (which is a ‘commercial composting’ system). Local firm Bun Coffee have gone a step further and have produced pods that are, according to Bun, ‘home compostable’ ie they will break down in your home compost heap. The complete capsule, including the lid, is made from plant materials. According to Bun Coffee, ‘the materials required to manufacture these capsules are more than double the cost of conventional laminate capsules’.

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