Giving Coffee Pods Another Life

Nespresso's recycling reply paid envelope

Date: 12-Oct-16
Author: Brad Gray

Do you find it hard to kick into gear without a shot of caffeine? Maybe you have an instant hit, plunge into the day, visit your favourite barista or make your own with a coffee pod machine. 

Over the past few years coffee pod machines have become increasingly popular. Their convenience has meant they are popping up in homes and workplaces around the country. It also means the waste stream produced from these machines is new and growing.

As a general rule, reusable items have a lower resource and waste impact than single-use products - think of shopping bags and coffee cups. Most pods are single-use, so if you’re using a machine it’s important to look for options to reduce their waste impact. This means looking for especially appropriate recycling options.   

Most pods are made from aluminium and/or plastic, which encapsulates the coffee grounds. The more materials a pod contains, the more difficult it is to separate and recycle. The recycling process needs to separate the aluminium and plastic while the coffee grounds are composted.

Waste Reduction Options

Nespresso pods are made from aluminium and are easy to recycle. A postage-paid Recycling Satchel can be used to return Nespresso pods for recycling. The satchels can be purchased for $1.90 from your retailer (they hold up to 130 capsules) and then dropped into any Australia Post office or box free of charge. Nespresso pods can also be dropped off in their Boutiques and a network of florists across the country.  

TerraCycle run a free collection program for NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto Capsules and a paid program for other pods.

There are a number of capsules appearing on the market made from bio-plastics including Eco-Caffe. The manufacturer reports these pods breakdown in 180 days in a commercial composter, the kind that councils use to compost food waste. 

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Brad                                              Gray

Author: Brad Gray

Brad is Planet Ark's Head of Campaigns. He trained and worked as a history and geography teacher before moving into the health education sector for 14 years. With a strong passion for human environments, Brad started with Planet Ark in 2007 as Recycling Programs Manager before taking up the role of Head of Campaigns in 2010. Brad works with every team in the organisation to create positive and action-based programs designed to engage Australians with the environment.

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