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Coffee Pods - a Sustainable Solution or Fleeting Fad?

Posted by Morgan Hoover on


Whether you use them or not, single-use coffee pods have taken the world by storm... and with quite a large amount of controversy. So what made a luxury coffee producer choose aluminum for their coffee pods?


Luxury coffee producer Nespresso chose to use aluminum to create their pre-portioned capsules because it offered the best protection from oxidation, preserved coffee freshness, and prevented food waste through leftovers. (According to the Sustainability Manager at Nespresso, the kitchen sink is the largest source of consumption of coffee made by standard drip pots.) Now, we know individual coffee pods can be controversial, even to the point of attempted ban in the US and Europe, and creating aluminum is no easy process either. So why did Nespresso choose Aluminum where Keurig chose plastic?


In 2009, Nespresso decided to source sustainable aluminum with the help of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. By 2015, Nespresso has 14 non-government organizations and 14 aluminum stakeholders developing a performance standard for aluminum production. In 2016, Nespresso headed the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative - an initiative dedicated to the sourcing and stewardship of aluminum. Though Nespresso is currently not at 100% fully recycled aluminum pods, they continue to improve their pods with hope of completely recycled pods by 2020. Similarly, Nespresso has implemented a meticulous recycling program in which their customers receive free shipping via UPS for recycled capsules and are encouraged to compost leftover grounds.


 compostable one cup San Francisco bay  

An Honorable Mention:

While Nespresso is still working out the kinks in their sustainability plan, another coffee company has perfected theirs. In 2017, San Francisco Bay Gourmet Coffee introduced the "No Waste" One Cup compatible with Keurig coffee makers. The entire pod is completely compostable from the filter holding the grounds to the bag holding the pods. To read more, click here.



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