Coffee evolved from ground coffee, instant coffee, and then trendy, but expensive cafes where people flock to get their daily fix. Recently, coffee lovers have resorted to Nespresso machines which use small aluminum pods of ground coffee covered with foil or filter paper that can give you a single serving of portable coffee. These coffee capsules were first sold by Nespresso in 1986 in four flavors which have become very popular.
However, these single serving coffee pods or capsules have drawn a lot of criticism from many circles, especially environmentalists and health experts who have seen them as a threat rather than a convenience. As part of its green waste reduction initiative, the German city of Hamburg introduced a ban in government buildings on polluting products that include equipment and packaging used for hot drinks ” in January 2016. This specifically included the Kaffeekapselmaschine ” or coffee capsule machine that makes 1 in 8 coffees sold nationwide.
Aluminum packaging is considered the main polluting culprit which consumes unnecessary resources and generates excessive waste. The capsules themselves cannot be easily recycled due to the mixture of plastic and aluminum. In addition, the remains of coffee grounds at the bottom of the capsule make them practically non-recyclable. Government officials stressed that this initiative sends an important message on the total elimination of products harmful to the environment from the market.
And it wasn’t just the Germans who started to reject coffee capsules. A poll conducted by Harris Interactive for The Grocer found that one in 10 Britons believe coffee capsules are bad for the environment.
But it might not be as easy as launching environmental campaigns against coffee capsules to reduce their popularity. Coffee capsules account for a third of the € 18 billion in the Western European coffee industry. While the overall coffee market is also growing steadily at around 1.6% per year, the growth rate of coffee capsules is 9%! In the UK alone, € 112 million worth of coffee capsules were sold in 2015, a one-third increase from the previous year. Some are predicting that coffee capsules will overtake teabag sales by 2021 if this trend continues!
Even across the pond, the K-cup single serve coffee capsule is America’s best-selling capsule. John Sylvan, the American inventor has publicly stated that he is expressing his concerns about his product. Others are also worried about the carbon footprint we leave on this planet; as we strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, products like coffee capsules are taking the planet back to about 20 or 30 years.
Experts suggest that there are better ways to make coffee that are less harmful to the environment. Dough Leblanc, owner of a cafe in Nova Scotia, Canada, launched the Kill the K-cup campaign, which succeeded in removing more than 200,000 capsules from the city by persuading residents to consume coffee from a different way.
Due to international pressure, coffee makers are now trying to make their capsules more responsibly and make them recyclable. Popular companies in the UK such as Nescafé, Nespresso and Philips are changing the design of their coffee machines.
In particular, Philips has made a new coffee machine, the Senseo, which uses eco-friendly coffee capsules and similar to biodegradable tea bags. Meanwhile, Nespresso has launched its own recycling department which includes a pick-up service for the reuse of discarded coffee capsules. It claims to have the capacity to recycle over 80% of used capsules with 14,000 capsule collection points in 31 countries and promises to bring this to 100% by 2021. Another innovative idea is being used in Germany where recycled capsules are used for manufacturing parts in the automotive industry.
Environmentalists also have suggestions to further encourage recycling of coffee capsules at the community and individual level. Leblanc says that put a deposit for the return of capsules like this on cans and bottles of soft drinks and beer. Another way is to keep the things we have to throw away as much as possible by reusing each item and also replacing the coffee capsules with normal coffee, which takes time to make but is better for the environment !. Thank you very much for your time and I would love to hear from you soon.