Love Nespresso but concerned about the environment? Recycling Nespresso pods in the UK may be about to get a lot easier.
A Winning Formula
Nespresso seems to have delivered the perfect formula for reliable espresso that doesn’t require any barista skills to produce. Even some fine restaurants in Italy have switched to serving Nespresso instead of pulling shots the traditional way!
Nespresso takes high-quality coffee and seals it into aluminium capsules with nitrogen to prevent oxidation and loss of flavour. With Nespresso capsules you can have a variety of different coffees on hand and you never have to worry about grinds or roasting dates. The company has also been engaging in socially responsible practices such as partnering with growers in places like South Sudan where they can have a positive impact on the lives of farmers.
There’s a Catch…
There’s only one problem – all of those capsules have an environmental impact. This brewing system uses a lot of packaging for tiny amounts of coffee, and so the effect on the planet of all that Nespresso drinking can be high. Nespresso and other coffee pods have been difficult to recycle in normal facilities because the pods are small and made of mixed materials that have to be separated for recycling.
A New Approach
In London at least, things are looking up for environmentally-conscious Nespresso lovers. Starting in May 2017, Nespresso launched a 6-month trial recycling program that allows Nespresso Club members to recycle used pods through their local council recycling services. The company is providing consumers with special bags to collect the used pods.
After collection, the bags of used pods are shipped to Congleton, where Nespresso has a recycling facility. Grounds are removed for composting, while the other components, mostly aluminium, are recycled. According to Nespresso, aluminium is the best material to use both because it keeps the coffee fresher and because it can be recycled over and over again almost indefinitely. Recycling aluminium only takes 5 percent of the energy needed to make aluminium from scratch.
Nespresso has been recycling used pods for several years, providing customers with purple bags that can be dropped off at a large number of collection points throughout the country. The problem has been the extra effort involved in dropping off the pods for recycling. Nespresso has never stated what percentage of its pods gets recycled, though they do claim to have the capacity to recycle all of them.
Hopefully by partnering with local council recycling services, Nespresso will be able to put a dent in the number of capsules that ends up in landfill. Coffee drinkers will be able to do the right thing without making any special effort beyond their ordinary household recycling routine. Similar programs have been tried in countries such as Canada, France and Germany.
The German city of Hamburg’s recent decision to ban Nespresso, Keurig and other capsule coffee from all government-run buildings was undoubtedly a wake-up call for Nestlé, the Swiss company that owns Nespresso. With growing concern about global warming and other environmental issues, consumers’ complaints need to be addressed.
This UK pilot program has its critics. People have pointed out that using a gram of packaging for every 2 grams of coffee is wasteful even if 100 percent of that packaging is recycled. After all, it takes energy and resources to manufacture the packaging, ship it, and then recycle it after it’s been used. Nespresso defends its process, saying that it uses other resources such as water and coffee more efficiently than other brewing methods, reducing overall waste.
A Better Future
However you look at it, there’s no doubt that it would be better to recycle more of the pods that are currently destined for landfill. Hopefully Nespresso has hit on the perfect plan to get closer to their goal of 100 percent recycling.