The environmental case for compostable coffee pods!

The environmental case for compostable coffee pods!

September 01, 2021

Welcome to our everyday blog on eco-friendly Nespresso-compatible capsules. One can learn a lot of fascinating facts, so we hope. Other interesting materials on plastic-free coffee capsules are e.g. from leading media publishers, or Moving Beans. Alternatively go through our good article on coffee pods.

We typically hear that single shot coffee capsules are bad for the environment, because of the energy to grow the beans, make the capsules, brew the coffee, and get rid of the waste. There is an upside nevertheless, as plastic capsules end up being a more sustainable way of drinking espresso than almost any other technique of making coffee. According to research study, recyclable aluminium pods are more environmentally friendly however the absence of recycling facilities in the UK and the greater energy need to produce the aluminium pods implies plastic capsules are much better after all.

In the UK, nearly one third of families own an espresso pod maker. Green advocates, have been critical of the quick adoption of the coffee capsule, criticising the deluge of waste streaming from the pod-powered coffee machine.

It looks bad for the environment, however that's not the whole story. To understand the ecological impact of feeding our coffee habit, it's essential to life-cycle evaluation studies for the full range of coffee-making techniques. Alf Hill, professor of chemical engineering at the University of Bath, took a look at all the stages of coffee production, from growing the beans to disposal of waste, examining the effect on environments, climate change, and water.

His group found that instantaneous coffee comes out best, however that capsules are the runner up in the ecological impact stakes. Filter or drip coffee comes third, while traditional espresso has the worst ecological impact. "The effect, such as greenhouse gas emissions, water and fertiliser use, mostly occurs where the coffee is grown," says Hill. "Capsules tend to require less coffee input to make a single drink therefore their general effect can be lower even though we see more waste when we throw them away."

Hill's research supports other research studies performed throughout the past few years, which recommend that capsules are ecologically less damaging than alternative coffee-brewing methods. Aside from the ecological impact of growing beans in the first place, the 2nd most significant hit is the energy it requires to brew coffee. That's why barista-made espresso fares so badly in regards to its environmental footprint: a great deal of energy is needed to brew just a tiny single espresso cup. Capsules, on the other hand, are more efficient. The coffee makers only flash-heat the amount of water needed for one portion, unlike, for example, boiling a kettle.

Typical users of a drip filter maker use it really ineffective frequently leaving it turned on, if more coffee is made than required. Because instance drip-filter coffee considerably even worse than capsules!

Research study by KTH in Stockholm, on the other hand, found that filter coffee has the worst ecological effect, due to the fact that cup for cup, filter coffee uses more beans to prepare a single cup-- about seven grams, compared to 5.7 grams for capsule coffee. Add that up to billions of cups of coffee drunk around the world each year and it quickly produces huge increase of the amount of coffee beans that have to be grown, collected, processed and carried, plus all the energy needed to heat up the water when making the cup.

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


In spite of the many studies showing that drip coffee and espressos are really worse for the environment than capsules, it is the lowly plastic coffee pod that gets the bum rap. People are just focussing on how capsules are eliminating the world, for this reason the factor for a great deal of work is entering into making capsules more sustainable-- because there is a sales opportunity in making them more sustainable, as people believe they are bad-- and not due to the fact that it is really an unsustainable way of drinking coffee.

A study by Quantis compared the electricity usage during developing, heating and squandering coffee for single-serve and drip coffee preparation. It discovered that single-serve coffee utilizes a precise serving of fresh coffee, which cuts coffee waste, while people making drip coffee often have leftover that they throw away. And espresso makers that rest on a gas hob or a hot plate usage significantly more energy than a capsule maker does.

It is agreed that if aluminium capsules are fully and widely recyclable, they would undoubtedly be much better for the environment than plastic ones (even if plastic ones are likewise commonly recycled). Having said that, the most recent Quantis research study suggests that producing plastic pods utilizes less energy than making aluminium ones, so unless the latter are more widely recycled, then plastic capsules might come out much better.

If you toss a compostable capsule into your green bin it will end up at the municipal incineration plant, there is no benefit to it being compostable. Making the compostable capsule pollutes as much or even more than producing a plastic one.

If compostable capsules are not tossed away in the regular bin collection cycle however put into unique bins that are taken to garden compost or, even much better, to biomethanisation centers, then they are much better than aluminium or plastic ones (even if both of these are widely recycled), the problem is, presently it's seldom the case.

Of course, capsules being much better than a lot of other coffee-making methods doesn't eliminate the basic truth that any product that produces waste presents an ecological problem.

Ideally you have seen that it is more frightening and complicated than you believed. Every action and choice you make has repercussions, both environmental and otherwise. It's simply a question of which lower caffeinated evil you select.

We are a start-up that has provided compostable coffee pods for several years, with more news under Moving Beans. Do check out an interesting blog on Nespresso-compatible pods. We were one of the first to provide truly plastic-free coffee capsules.



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