Coffee is quite literally starting to cost the Earth, and I’m not talking about the $5.20 latte I bought recently in Surry Hills. I’m referring to the disastrous effect that regular coffee capsules are having on the environment.
Australians alone are currently consuming 3 MILLION coffee capsules every day. That’s enough waste to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool every 2 weeks! When you consider that a regular coffee capsule takes between 150 – 500 years to break down – it appears that our love affair with an espresso style brew at the touch of a button is contributing to a global environmental disaster.
Standard coffee capsules are made from a combination of aluminum and plastic with organic matter inside, so even though they are technically recyclable – the complexity of the material and their tiny size means that they usually end up in landfill, nonetheless.
"There's a difference between 'they (coffee pods) are recyclable' and 'they can be recycled' or 'they're cost-effective to recycle',” Says Hugo Parris, Queensland Recycling Manager for TransPacific Industries (TPI). TPI operates Material Recover Facilities all over Australia – so they’re responsible for sorting household rubbish and recyclables.
Mr Parris does not encourage customers to recycle coffee pods. Not only do the coffee grounds contaminate other recyclable products, but "the screens to filter materials at our MRFs are too large and items such as coffee pods are able to pass straight through. Therefore, they end up in landfill”.
Remarkably, John Sylvan, the inventor of one of America’s most popular coffee capsules – the K-Cup – has also recently spoken out against single use coffee pods. "No matter what they say about recycling, those things (K-Cups) will never be recyclable… the plastic is a specialised plastic made of four different layers…I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it."
And Mr Sylvan is not the only coffee capsule executive to speak out against the pod. Earlier in the year former Nespresso chief executive Jean-Paul Gaillard urged consumers to think about the price of convenience. "It will be a disaster and it's time to move on that. People shouldn't sacrifice the environment for convenience," he said.
So what’s the alternative?
The Social Cup’s Nespresso compatible coffee capsules are made from a patented plant based composite and are 100% certified biodegradable and compostable. Since they are made out of renewable sources and vegetable fibres, they completely biodegrade within 180 days – twice as fast as an orange peel!
These biodegradable capsules are certified to meet the EN13432 European standard. The requirements of which are mainly reflected in four aspects:
- Biodegradation: 90% biodegradation in less than two months to be achieved
- Disintegration: fragmentation and complete loss of visibility in the final compost
- Composition: A maximum rate defined volatile solids, heavy metals must be respected
- Ecotoxicity: The quality of the compost should not be changed and the residue should not be toxic to the environment.
In short, within 6 months of throwing your used The Social Cup capsule in the compost or rubbish bin – it will completely biodegrade without negatively affecting the environment – be like it never existed.
It’s these small consumer choices we make that have a big impact on our planet. There have already been enough plastic capsules sold to circle the Earth hundreds of times over, and soon they will all be lying in landfill. We now have the technology to avoid this environmental disaster.
I know what I will choose.
Click here to view The Social Cup’s range of biodegradable coffee capsules: