With more of us working from home, or just wanting to enjoy a luxurious cup of coffee whenever we fancy one, the popularity of coffee pods has surged.
It’s great for the coffee companies and a treat for us, but maybe not so good for the environment, as a YouGov poll of over 4,000 coffee pod drinkers found that 35% of them didn’t know that coffee pods were recyclable.
They can be forgiven for thinking that though given that regular coffee pods are usually made from plastic or aluminium, or both, these materials can take hundreds of years to decompose in a landfill.
But there’s some good news on the horizon for all of you confused coffee enthusiasts, two of the biggest names in the UK coffee industry have joined forces to launch a recycling programme for coffee pods.
‘Podback’ is being launched by Nestlé and Jacobs Douwe Egberts UK and it will provide consumers with a few easy ways to recycle their coffee pods. As part of the scheme, you’ll be able to recycle pods from brands including Nespresso, Nescafé Dolce Gusto, Tassimo, L’OR, and Starbucks at Home, and the plan is that the initiative will be expanded to eventually include coffee pods from all brands that use plastic or aluminium pods.
How will you be able to recycle your coffee pods?
- Take them to a Yodel Collect+ point: There are over 6,500 drop-off points in the UK that are open 7 days per week. You will be able to order recycling bags online from the participating brands and these will also be available in supermarkets soon.
- Leave them out for kerbside collection: If you live in Cheltenham or South Derbyshire, you will be able to sign up for kerbside recycling for your coffee pods from 10th May. Other councils are in discussions about adopting the Podback scheme, and you can check whether your council is participating, how they will collect the pods, and order recycling bags here.
Making coffee pod recycling even easier
There are ongoing discussions with major retailers about an idea to start a ‘handover at home’ scheme which would make coffee pod recycling even easier for consumers.
If the idea became a reality, you could hand over your used coffee pods for recycling when your groceries are delivered.
There are also calls for all brands and retailers of plastic or aluminium pods to join Podback so there is one simple and far less confusing way for people to recycle their coffee pods
What will happen to the collected coffee pods?
They will be taken to a specialist processing plant where the packaging will be separated from any leftover coffee grounds. The coffee grounds will be used to create soil improver and renewable bioenergy. The plastic and aluminium from the pods will be recycled and turned into new products like drinks cans or plastic garden furniture.
Are there better choices than a capsule coffee machine?
While your pods are a quick and easy way to enjoy a delicious coffee, there are more eco-friendly options like;
- Bean-to-cup coffee machines: These can leave a dent in your wallet, so be sure to shop around. They do grind your coffee and make your drink for you, though.
- Ground coffee or pump espresso machines: These do take a bit of work, but the result is tasty and satisfying.
There you have it, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy coffee and do it sustainably. You might think that recycling your coffee pods is no big deal, but every little bit helps, especially if we all do it.