If you are tempted to start your day with a cup of fragrant and delicious coffee, you aren’t alone — about one-third of households in the UK own coffee pod machines at home and enjoy the drink whenever desired. The global appeal of coffee pods and capsules has become even more unprecedented over time — valued at the rate of almost US$108 billion, this market is expected to grow by over 50% by 2027.
With the ever-increasing demand for the product, a lot of concerns and issues also arise. It is no wonder that people are worried about how safe their favourite pleasures are for the planet. There are quite a few debates on how compostable different types of materials for coffee pods are. So it is high time to find the truth behind the marketing hints of green campaigners. Mind the gap!
The Production of Coffee Pods: What Are Coffee Pods Typical Materials?
Nowadays, coffee pods are known as one of the simplest ways to prepare this aromatic drink at home. Their ease of use, convenience, and availability aren’t on the table. Many companies are currently occupied with research and creating reliable and eco-friendly coffee capsules, but steering away from plastic wasn’t the crucial objective for pioneers in the market.
Nespresso, a coffee pod manufacturer, was the first to introduce such products to customers. It was a branch of Nestle, established in 1986. However, the overall concept was created years earlier, in 1975. The initial manufacturing fundamentals were aluminum and plastic, and this tendency has been preserved even now. By 2006, the company had some competitors in the market (like Keurig in the US) but played a dominant and monopolist-like role.
In 2010s, fellow brands started to appear. Instead of making whole machines, they designed and produced just coffee pods. Nespresso tried to cope with this problem (their technology was patented), but things didn’t work in their favour. Today, the number of competitor coffee pod companies has exceeded 400 brands. Of course, their production technologies and choice of materials differ significantly:
- Nestle commonly selects aluminium for manufacturing Nespresso capsules.
- Keurig pods contain aluminium and plastic, which don’t let them be biodegradable, — customers have to separate the leftovers from these capsules.
- Other competitors commonly consider PBT plastic (simply put, a semi-crystalline thermoplastic that is allowed for use in the food industry), cornflour-based, and plant-compostable materials such as recyclable paper, sugar beet, etc.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Plastic Capsules
Making small steps to improve your daily consumption habits start definitely start with a more in-depth understanding of how different materials are compatible with the term “compostable coffee pods”. When it related to plastic ones, your earth friendly attitude is quite debatable:
- Coffee pods are an undoubtful lifesaver for rush mornings and lazy evenings. But this overall sufficiency is decreased by sticking to plastic pods. They might be accessible and affordable materials for manufacturers but lacking for your health. These products have been linked to endocrine system disruptions, which can lead to fertility issues and hormonal abnormalities.
- Plastic is one of the most dangerous non-recyclable and non-compostable materials.
- Despite the fact that plastic recycling machines do exist, pods are frequently ineligible for them — they are too lightweight for automated sorting processes. In turn, these plastic coffee capsules end up in landfills.
- They release a significant volume of unprocessed polyvinyl alcohol (briefly, PVA), which has a decent potential to pollute groundwater and, therefore, human water supply systems. Lots of conditions are required to make PVA biodegradable to the full extent.
- The selection of flavours in plastic coffee pods is limited. In turn, this material decreases the natural taste of coffee in the long run.
According to research, over thirty thousand coffee pods appear in landfills. Taking into account that manufacturers don’t use pure plastic capsules, the appliance of additional additives commonly worsens the overall recyclability of the product.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Aluminium
Is it possible to be environmentally conscious with coffee capsules made of this metal? Here are interesting features to consider:
- With a large abundance of aluminuum, there are no resource issues for the production of coffee pods.
- It is one of the most typical solutions for plastic leaching in the world.
- This material preserves coffee’s freshness by minimizing moisture and air exposure.
- It is beloved by many manufacturers thanks to its incredible preservation properties. Since it is an odourless and flavourless material, the coffee inside remains absolutely delicious.
- Its high tightness reduces waste.
- It is considered a recyclable material. Despite being reprocessed numerous times, this metal keeps its inherent qualities. What’s more, restructuring is quite simple, while the recycling process itself consumes little energy.
Compared to plastic pods, aluminium capsules are frontrunners for sure. They are consistent, unlike plastic, which extreme integrity is a solid disadvantage for any recycling operations. However, neither of them is perfect for the purpose. Here are some imperfections of aluminium:
- Using such pods isn’t very cheap. Such packets are typically pricey, especially when you need a separate machine to prepare them.
- Recyclability and biodegradability are different terms. With so many benefits under consideration, a rather small percentage of aluminium capsules may fully decompose. What’s more, to make them recyclable and harm-free, you require special machines in your area. If they are absent, the use of green trash bins will be an insufficient trial to play eco-consciously.
The Evolution of Biodegradable Coffee Pods
The unfortunate reality about modern coffee capsules is that a huge part of them can’t be disposed of and recycled, although a lot of consumers are convinced of the opposite. This effect is due to their intricate design, which makes them extremely challenging to precisely recycle — the majority of such pods are constructed of a mix of polymers and aliminium.
Given that coffee pods frequently contain ground coffee leftovers, the ineffectiveness of the original coffee capsule production approach causes lots of natural waste. The leading solution to the problem has become the discovery of biodegradable pods.
The Manufacturing Peculiarities of Eco Friendly Coffee Pods
What are coffee pods that modern customers search for? The right answer will be biodegradable coffee pods. A product must be composed of resources that don’t impact the environment negatively to be called sustainable and eco-acceptable. The list of the currently most preferred options would be incomplete without compostable paper and plant-based ingredients.
Without a doubt, the way companies deal with production techniques and technologies has a drastic impact on the final goods. If the methodology isn’t adherent to domestic and international standards and doesn’t pursue innovative solutions, advertised eco friendly coffee pods won’t be genuinely organic and nature-harm-free. One of the decent companies with an upgraded coffee pod manufacturing style is BOSECO — its top-certified approach delivers coffee gourmet delicacies without affecting the planet through its packaging.
This team is best known for the following innovational life hacks — with the best coffee flavours in compact and compostable capsules, you will enjoy these aromas in a highly sustainable and environmentally friendly way:
- The content of BOSECO compostable coffee capsules is free of aluminiun — it is replaced with a special biodegradable seal paper.
- The main focus is made on renewable raw materials. The production of BOSECO coffee capsules results in vegan, GMO-, and gluten-free goodies thanks to the preference for vegetable fibers, glucose, and other bio-recyclable additives.
- The chosen materials comply with several market requirements, including DIN EN ISO 14855, which confirm their biodegradability.
If you don’t want to compromise the coffee quality and sustainability from A to Z, the choice of your preference is straightforward.
How the Biodegradable Capsules Are Composted
According to Packaging Online, it might take around five hundred years for plastic ground coffee capsules to decompose, but that’s not the end of the story — tons of microplastics will keep up with damaging the surroundings around the world. In the case of environmentally friendly coffee pods, the scenario is quite the opposite:
- Since coffee grounds make up more than 70-80% of the weight of compostable capsules, there are several reasons to prize their biodegradability. This nitrogen-rich content is a good compost for soils and doesn’t pollute them with toxins and microplastics.
- The duration of the decomposing depends on how, where, and when you decide to get rid of them. Averagely, it takes around one hundred eighty days for the process to be fully completed.
You can recycle compostable coffee pods in different ways:
- with the help of the neighbourhood communal compost center;
- by using a home compost;
- with green waste containers.
The Takeaway: What Are the Best Environmentally Friendly Coffee Pods?
Unfortunately, there are still many companies, the labor-intense coffee pod production of which isn’t eco-friendly at all. The positive part of the story is that more and more organizations have completely changed their attitude toward manufacturing activities and are famous for their preferences for organic and nature-caring methods of creating coffee pods. With coffee pods from such service providers as BOSECO, you don’t have to worry that the leftovers you have will rot in the ground for ages — their biodegradability and compostability are tested, verified, and trusted. They might be more expensive than casual plastic capsules, but you will pursue way more excellent goals by selecting eco-friendly alternatives from BOSECO and other companies..