A great long reads article came out recently in the Guardian about the uncertain future for Nespresso’s aluminium coffee pods. Get yourself a coffee and 20 minutes to get through a very interesting read.
I’ve written over the years that pods are generally wasteful, regardless of how they are manufactured. Efforts at getting the coffee rounds out of Dolce Gusto styles or the ubiquitous office style pods are very difficult for the end consumer, and it seems not many people are prepared to take them in for recycling.
In the past decade, consumers have grown increasingly concerned about the sheer amount of waste caused by coffee pods. Halo, a firm which makes compostable pods, estimates that of the 39,000 pods made every minute, 29,000 will end up in landfill.
In an indictment of a lack of local and state government leadership in addressing the mountains of waste being produced by coffee pod consumption, the article referenced a Hamburg city initiative to bad pods in government run buildings. That was 2016! Nothing much happened after that.
The fact that coffee grounds are trapped in those pods is not the worst of it. The aluminium in those pods add to a staggering volume of waste.
But some experts have suggested that just 5% of Nespresso pods are recycled. Even if Nespresso’s figure is accurate, with a conservative estimate of 14bn capsules being sold each year, and 0.9 grams of aluminium per capsule, that means 12,600 tonnes of Nespresso aluminium end up in landfill annually, enough for 60 Statues of Liberty.
Let’s see how coffee drinking trends change in the face of COVID-19. Fewer people in offices means less pod machines in use, and for those at home maybe less of a chance to re-stock. Instant off the supermarket shelf isn’t so bad when getting out is so much trouble. I’m sure that more ‘tales of the pod’ will be covered in the months and years to come. On this site of course!