What's the environmental impact of Nespresso® coffee pods?

nespresso capsules environmental impact

The coffee capsule is a genius invention; it solves so many problems in one tiny package however it comes at a huge environmental price. We’re trying to change that. 

Making a great cup of coffee is all about managing the variables. It starts with the coffee itself, but on the basis that you have a decent product, that is only one issue amongst many. In many ways it’s why I envy wine makers. Once they’ve got the taste profile they want, they simply pop the wine in a bottle and then stick a cork (or screw lid) in the top and hey presto that is the wine the consumer gets. With coffee it’s not so simple.

If you the consumer buys some perfectly roasted coffee from your local specialist and take it home, the roaster no longer has any control over what you do next. Have you ground it to the correct coarseness? More importantly are the blades of your grinder fit for purpose? Getting this part wrong will impact on the contact time between coffee and water. Too fine and you might get an over extracted flavour, too coarse and everything’s a bit wishy washy.

Then of course there’s the water temperature, too hot, too cold, freshly drawn or stale. Finally, the level of dosing for the volume of liquid you are using. All these variables ultimately impact the taste in your cup for good or ill.

The coffee capsule has removed so many of these variables. The container is sealed therefore the coffee grounds which are also probably gas flushed will feel fresh. The coffee is ground to the right consistency so that the water flows through the coffee consistently. No wonder Nestlé have made a fortune with their Nespresso pods. The consistency they produce probably out does many a coffee shop.

The problem though for me has always been about the environmental impact. In 2016 the German city of Hamburg banned coffee capsules from state run buildings in an environmental drive to reduce waste. “These portion packs cause unnecessary resource consumption and waste generation”. It’s hard to argue with this statement; a combination of plastic, aluminium and organic waste is very costly to recycle. Although a collection service is provided by Nespresso that simply creates a greater carbon footprint. Back in 2020 it was estimated that of the 39,000 capsules created every minute, 29,000 will end up in landfill.

On top of the landfill problem, there is the environmental costs of producing aluminium in the first place. Mining a tonne of aluminium can produce about 10-12 tonnes of waste, including 2-3 tonnes of toxic alkaline red mud.

That begs the question, so what if you could simply compost the capsule? This is where Halo™ step in with their fully compostable capsules made from sugar cane and paper pulp. Once you’ve made your cup of coffee the spent capsule can be simply be put on the compost heap where it will compost naturally with all other organic waste. 

It’s taken us a while to get to this point but today we have partnered up with Halo. Using their incredible technology and Cooper's coffee we’ve selected four different single origin coffees for your enjoyment. We recognise there is a cost to going green but we believe that in the long run we’ll be handing over a planet that will be enjoyed for generations to come. How do you put a price on that?

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