Why Recycling Schemes for Coffee Capsules Don't Always Work

You can recycle Nespresso capsules through Nestle's own recycling scheme. You can get special recycling bags they'll collect, you can post them back, or you can drop off the bags of your used capsules for recycling at Nespresso Boutiques.

But right from the start, the single-serve aluminum or plastic pods create a lot of unnecessary waste. Extracting and processing raw materials is not always cheap, and both making and recycling them are energy-intensive processes. So, even if you do recycle, a lot of raw materials and a lot of energy is used, which creates a lot of pollution and leaves a large carbon footprint. Plastic waste has also been the cause of the catastrophic damage being done to our oceans (you can read more about that here and here.)

Moreover, Nespresso won’t say how how many of its pods get recycled through the recycling scheme. This lack of transparency has already been criticized. This is bad, since transparency from any company in this industry - not only Nestlé - is essential, particularly when it comes to the environmental impact of the products being produced.

At the heart of this, there are three big problems with the recycling schemes for coffee capsules. Firstly, it's not that easy to recycle Nespresso capsules. You can only use Nespresso's own recycling scheme, since you can't throw used capsules out with other normal domestic recycling. Secondly, all that aluminium still has to be produced to make the capsules in the first place, which takes a lot of energy and raw material. Then, to add to that, the recycling process itself takes up a lot of energy and still produces waste and pollution. Finally, most people just don't seem to want to use it.

Having to go through Nespresso's own recycling scheme reduces the simple convenience of using the system in the first place and can incur additional costs to the customer too. Sure, you might think "a bit of extra effort is no big deal if it's helping the environment", but it's better to get to the root of the problem and eliminate it completely! Additionally, the recycling for domestic waste doesn't recycle mixed materials (which includes coffee capsules) or materials contaminated with food waste (including used coffee grounds!)

Our approach solves all of these issues. There's absolutely no aluminium or plastic in our products at all, so there's no need to go through the energy-intensive processes of making it then recycling it in the first place. Moreover, the convenience is still maintained. Food waste disposal is easy and available everywhere, and you can throw the whole capsule out into compost or food waste once it's been used!

In short, there's no extra cost to the environment during production and disposal of our products, and there's no extra cost to the customer when they've used our products.

Moving Beans: Great coffee, great for the environment.


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