Green or sustainable? Bioplastics are penetrating our supermarket racks, however are they actually great for the world?

Green or sustainable? Bioplastics are penetrating our supermarket racks, however are they actually great for the world?

September 02, 2021

Welcome to our daily blog post on compostable Nespresso-compatible capsules. You can get a lot of fascinating facts, so we really hope. Other interesting websites on plastic-free coffee pods are e.g. from leading media publishers, or Moving Beans. Or read our related blog on compostable coffee pods.

Ever been fooled by an artificial flower arrangement? Ever admired the foliage just to find that (upon closer evaluation) the arrangement is in truth a fraud? Greenwashing works in an extremely comparable way - brands harnessing deceptive marketing to encourage you that an item is eco-friendly and for that reason "better for the environment".

Sadly, many of these companies assume customers have their head in the sand, and in the coffee capsule market in particular, we're certainly seeing these type of marketing strategies increasing. Comforting words like "recyclable", "biodegradable", "plant based" and "compostable" truly put your mind at ease? But on an useful level, what do these terms really suggest and are they actually as good as they sound?

We get that often it's simplest to pop your first option in the shopping trolley and individuals are definitely trying their best to make the best options, so it's far from fair that everyday buyers are being deceived.

Don't be fooled by sly marketing strategies or confusing terms and labelling - we have actually assembled the details you need to avoid being greenwashed. So, are the coffee pods you're using actually "green"? Let's learn.

Phony environmentally friendly products: Are your coffee capsules sustainable?


The majority of cluey consumers are becoming savvy to the truth that the option that is "recyclable" coffee pods isn't as easy and terrific as we've been led to believe. The procedure of recycling capsules is neither convenient nor kind to the environment.

For numerous consumers, the rigmarole around recycling their pods avoids them from following through - it has actually been stated that of the 13,500 capsule coffees consumed every minute, only 21% make it through to the recycling procedure. Some brand names require to be dropped at specific collection points, posted straight to the business, and even require taking apart and cleaning up before the elements can be recycled individually - general, the process is highly energy-intensive.

Perhaps because of this, the former Nespresso CEO estimates the worldwide rate of recycling for coffee pods to be less than 5%. Furthermore, with the energy needed to carry and process the capsules in a recycling facility, is this truly a sustainable alternative at all, or simply a bandaid service for a much larger issue?

Ultimately, the problem is not whether they can be recycled or not. Obviously it is much better to recycle something than not, but the bottom line is that it's much better to not produce the waste at all.

Problem = Recyclable pods can not be recycled via domestic bins + the recycling procedure has a high carbon footprint


Recycling coffee pods is a bandaid service for a much larger waste issue


Firstly, when it comes to pods what does "plant-based" even indicate, and what's it got to finish with how the capsule is disposed of? To the typical person, it sure noises wholesome, charming and favorable - but are they a much better option than non reusable, plastic pods?

Well, the primary claim you'll usually find here is that part of the pod product packaging includes particular portion of plant-based product. Frequently, the products will be derived from a renewable resource, such as corn or sugarcane. If you look closely, frequently these are also labelled as "degradable". Here's the kicker: degradable is not to be confused with biodegradable, due to the fact that anything that is degradable will not fully break down into the soil when it winds up in garbage dump. Instead, it turns into small pieces of plastic that will never break down, contributing to the micro plastics issue we're currently battling in our oceans and waterways.

Essentially, when these end up in land fill or our environment, they trigger more harm than good. In our simple opinion? This is probably not a great option.

Video: Sustainable and Nespresso-compatible Pods by Moving Beans.

Problem = The bulk of plant-based pods simply degrade into small micro plastics


Compostable/ naturally degradable coffee pods made from plant-based materials like corn and sugarcane


Compostable and naturally degradable - they're kind of the very same, however kind of ... not. With sustainability "trends" on the increase, compostable and biodegradable coffee pod alternatives are now numerous.

But let's break this down (pun planned): Products that compost or biodegrade can certainly be great for lowering waste, if dealt with properly. Nevertheless, just because a product is labelled as "compostable", it does not always indicate that it will break down in your home compost.

Usually, coffee pods made completely of bioplastics require commercial composting (industrially heats, wetness levels, and UV light) to disintegrate within any affordable time frame. Even still, these products can leave behind micro-fragments and harmful residues.

It's a little-known reality that, regrettably, it's not likely your house composting system has what it requires to break down your biodegradable pods. Some councils supply industrial composting through their kerbside green waste collection, nevertheless they might restrict items identified compostable or naturally degradable, so it's important that you verify. Constantly make certain to contact your local council to see if they accept bioplastic first prior to getting rid of.

So if you were after a coffee pod that's safe to put straight in your garden compost bin, we can comprehend how this could be confusing. Some warnings to look out for (in small print on the back of product packaging, or at the extremely base/footer of a site) are lines like:
" They are recyclable and eco-friendly, however not compostable."
" In order for compostable capsules to break down in 90 days, capsules must be processed through a commercial composting center." or
" Please call your local council before disposing in your green bin."

When it pertains to compostable items in general, ideally you wish to look for items that are Australian certified as "Home Compostable" by the Australian Bioplastics Association, ensuring they're labelled as safe for composts, are made from vegetable material and are plastic complimentary - phew!

Key takeaway? If it feels and looks like plastic, always research and read the small print on how to compost each brand prior to you buy.

Issue = The majority of naturally degradable & compostable pods need industrial composting centers to breakdown


Bioplastic coffee pods: Sustainable, or greenwash? If they look like plastic, think twice


As you understand, every product needs basic materials to be mined/grown/manufactured, processed, packaged, and delivered. This is rather an energy-hungry, brief life for a such a small portion of coffee. The energy output of production is so excellent, that no single-use item can compare to a multiple-use product - even if it's recyclable, compostable, or eco-friendly.

When it comes to a pre-portioned pack of coffee, multiple-use capsules get this. The more your pod is reused, the more sustainable each cuppa.

Aside from being able to choose your favourite brand name of coffee, there's another secret bonus offer to filling your own pods: it's a lot more affordable than purchasing disposable pods. So if you're on a tight budget, invest in a pack of reusables and view your cost savings roll in.

In stating this, when it concerns multiple-use, it's still essential to be greenwash-aware. Something to keep in mind when shopping for any reusable product, is that quality and longevity are crucial - less expensive, unfortunately is rarely "much better". Some warnings to look out for:
  • Lightweight plastic reusable pods with an incredibly restricted life-span (e.g. 30 usages).
  • Plastic recyclable pods that are not BPA free, food safe and so on
  • Reusable pods that come packaged in plastic.
  • Pods from any company or website that doesn't offer any details on it's sustainability practices (even if a product is "naked" on the shelf, doesn't suggest it's upstream supply chain was pollution-free).

    We are a market challenger that has provided compostable Nespresso-compatible pods for several years, with much more information at Moving Beans. Or go through a related blog on compostable coffee pods. We were one of the first to deliver truly sustainable Nespresso coffee pods.


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