Nespresso is recycling its single-serve coffee pods to fight the problem it helped create
- About a third of Americans own a single-serve coffee machine, but this popularity in single-cup coffee is posing an environmental burden. There are enough coffee pods buried to circle the earth more than a couple dozen times.
- In addition to needing to be recycled in a very specific way, some coffee pods contain Plastic #7, which is difficult to break down and could even contain toxins.
- Nespresso is one of the two leading single-serve coffee manufacturers in the world. The company developed a recycling facility for its coffee pods to combat the problem.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Nespresso is the first single-serve coffee company to develop a facility dedicated to recycling their own coffee pods. Why?
Because we have a coffee pod recycling problem.
Single-serve coffee machines are really popular. About a third of all American coffee drinkers own one, while more than half of Americans say that they drink single-cup coffee pods in 2017.
Single-cup coffee sales increased to almost 4.5 billion in 2017. But those pods are not easy to recycle. They are packed with coffee grounds and cannot be reprocessed using conventional methods. They have to be recycled in a very specific way.
Because of that, there are enough pods buried on the planet to circle the earth more than a couple dozen times. We took a look inside Nespresso's facility to see how they're trying to change that.
Because Nespresso capsules are made of aluminum, they need to break them down in a very specific way, so they partnered with Ag Choice. From there, the grounds are separated from the aluminum containers. The emptied capsules are baled and melted, the grounds are baked.
"You don't need to open them, you don't need to rinse them. Use them, stick them in the approved Nespresso bag and send them to us," explained Ag Choice's founder and president, Jay Fischer.
Having the facility isn't enough, since the company depends on customers to ship their pods back.
Though Nespresso is taking action, they wouldn't share with us exactly how many capsules are actually recycled.
Nespresso and Keurig are two of the leading single-serve coffee manufacturers in the world.
In 2014, a video titled "Kill the K Cup" came out and caused an uproar against Keurig. The company received backlash because their pods contained Plastic #7, which is difficult to recycle and could contain toxins. Plastic #7 is the catch-all of plastics, making it really difficult to breakdown.
Keurig's co-inventor John Sylvan even said he regretted inventing the K-cup, knowing how terrible the pods were for the environment.
Nespresso's recycling program is in 37 other countries, including Canada, Brazil and New Zealand.
Both Keurig and Nespresso, have goals to build a more comprehensive and sustainable pod recycling program by 2020. But just having facilities may not be enough, as both companies will still depend on their consumers to send the pods back. And for Nespresso, they say the core of their focus is all about the long run.
"The reason we benefit by providing a recycling program is because we're encouraging conscious consumption, so you enjoy a really great cup of coffee with the right amount of coffee the right amount of water and capsule goes on to be recycled and it becomes another product down the line," said Katarina Wos, PR and Corporate Communications for Nespresso USA.