San Francisco became the first city to ban the sale of plastic bottles in early 2014, aiming to become a zero-waste city by 2020. Last month, the German city of Hamburg introduced last month the ban of coffee capsules in government buildings. They have realized that due to the constantly growing sales of these single-use products, the produced waste is also growing in quantity. Furthermore, because of the complexity of the packaging – consisting of aluminium and plastic- plus the organic residues, it is very difficult to recycle them.
Growing sales of coffee pods
Capsule sales have been growing at a rate of 9% per year since 2011 (the coffee market in general is growing at 1.6% a year) and are expected to treble by 2020, surpassing those of tea bags! They are making up 1/3 of the $18 billion Western European coffee market.
The existing recycling program
Nescafe Nespresso already has its own recycling program, picking up used capsules for reuse, with 14000 collect points in 31 countries. They currently recycle up to 80% of used capsules, aiming to reach 100% by 2020. From the company’s point of view, portioned coffee was a method to reduce water and coffee waste.
On the other hand, coffee capsules cause an unnecessary resource consumption and eventually waste generation, and they often contain polluting aluminium. 3 gr of packaging contain 6 gr of coffee. How sustainable does this sound?