The eco-conscious coffee lover might wonder what becomes of the leftover coffee pod from their morning cup of joe. Researchers found an estimate of 9 billion coffee pods that ended up in landfills in 2014.
If these coffee pods are made from plastic materials, they remain there for hundreds or thousands of years. Increasing awareness of the impact of waste created by coffee consumption has given rise to the popularity of recyclable and biodegradable coffee pods.
Coffee pods made from plastics are the cheapest to produce. The cost however is outweighed by the fact that these plastic pods are a mixed product and cannot be recycled. They are thus discarded and end up in landfills.
Aluminium coffee pods, while technically recyclable, are not accepted by most municipal councils or recycling facilities. Manufacturers of aluminium pods such as Nespresso require consumers to collect and package the waste product and send them to their respective producers for recycling.
This in turn raises the appeal of biodegradable and coffee pods as a more sustainable alternative.
10 Biodegradable Coffee Pods
If you’re looking for biodegradable coffee pods, here are a number of manufacturers who market their coffee pods as biodegradable.
- Colonna Coffee – With the limited run of their compostable capsules now available in the UK, Colonna plans on further exploring the viability of compostable technology with their experience of producing incredible flavours.
Colonna Coffee’s of Nespresso-compatible compostable coffee pods come in Ngorongoro AA Espresso, Buriso Amaje Natural Lungo, El Oso Espresso and El Porvenir Lungo.
- Grind – Grind’s signature organic coffee comes in compostable pods compatible with an Original style Nespresso machine.
Ranging in blends of house, dark, light and decaf; Grind’s coffee pods break down in weeks even in landfills – hundreds of times faster than plastic or aluminium pods.
- Lavazza Eco Caps – Lavazza’s line of Eco Caps coffee pods align with the Italian espresso company’s goal of integrating sustainability into their business strategy. Partnering with recycling experts TerraCycle, Lavazza has set up convenient pickup points across the UK for consumers to dispose of their 100% industrially compostable capsules.
Lavazza’s Eco Caps are available in Espresso Delizioso, Espresso Passionale, Bio Organic, Dek Cremoso, Dolce, Qualita Rossa and Intenso. These are compatible with a Lavazza My Way coffee machine.
- Perk – Perk boasts a line of oxygen tight, compostable biocapsules made from at least 62% renewable materials. Their capsules feature a cardboard ring made from biodegradable cellulose that are Nespresso-compatible.
Perkpods are available in smooth and sophisticated Urbanite, rich and bold Intrepid, distinct and balanced Defiant, and Maverick.
- Halo – Halo’s line of coffee pods are produced utilising waste sugar cane: a by-product of the sugar cane industry. These materials allow Halo’s capsules to fully degrade in as little as 28 days in a home composter.
Halo’s Nespresso-compatible coffee pods are available in a wide range of flavors from the walnut and milk chocolate flavored Honduras to the robust yet sweet blend that is Halo Noir.
- Kiss The Hippo Coffee – Kiss The Hippo Coffee’s commitment to sustainability is evident in their line of organic and compostable pods. In addition, KTH’s tree-planting scheme makes them London’s first carbon negative coffee company.
Kiss The Hippo’s Nespresso-compatible coffee pods are available in Organic House Blend, Organic Classic Blend and Organic Decaf.
- Blue Goose – Blue Goose’s range of eco-friendly biodegradable organic coffee pods are made with zero single-use plastics. Blue Goose’s Nespresso-compatible coffee pods are available in flavors of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Arabica, Organic Peruvian, Organic Lungo and Organic Swiss Water Decaf.
- Moving Beans – Made from sugar cane and sugar beet based materials, Moving Beans coffee pods will fully decompose in 12 to 16 weeks and can be disposed of in your organic waste bin provided by your town council.
These Nespresso-compatible coffee pods are available in a wide range of flavors from their Classic Espresso Blend to their Bold Ristretto Blend and more.
- Roar Gill – Along with all Roar Gill’s packaging, their coffee capsules are made from cutting-edge wood fibre technology certified to be 100% compostable.
Roar Gill’s Nespresso-compatible coffee pods are available in Bold Blend, Swiss Water Decaf, Cortado Blend, Exotic Peru and Rare Brazil.
- Tayst – Tayst coffee pods are made with a combination of renewable and compostable materials from a plastic-free lid, a ring made from renewable bio resins and coffee skins; and an innovative bio-based mesh.
Tayst offers 7 premium coffee blends in Keurig compatible K-cups.
Composting Biodegradable Coffee Pods
Switching to an eco-friendly biodegradable brand is a great start. However, disposing of a compostable coffee pod may not be as simple as placing them into a compost bin. Disposing of a biodegradable coffee pod depends on the materials used during production.
Two kinds of materials exist : Industrial Certified Compostable and Home Certified Compostable.
Coffee pods made with materials that are labeled as Industrial Certified Compostable only decompose under certain conditions and in specific environments. The used coffee pods have to be collected and transported to an industrial composting facility where pods are exposed to high temperatures, bacteria, and aerated to be sufficiently oxidized.
Coffee pods made with materials labeled as Home Certified Compostable don’t require the same methods as Industrial Certified Compostable to decompose. These coffee pods can be disposed of in a home composting bin.
Additionally, compost heaps containing these coffee pods need to be well aerated and mixed with other compostable organic waste products such as vegetable waste, grass clippings and dead leaves.
How Long Does It Take for Biodegradable Coffee Pods to Break Down?
The rate of which biodegradable coffee pods break down varies greatly depending on the types of materials used.
In a study conducted in 2018, compostable coffee pods were recorded to have fully degraded within 38 days under the conditions and within the environment of an industrial waste facility. In contrast, single use plastic coffee pods can take upwards of a thousand years to break down in landfills.
Are Any Coffee Pods Compostable?
The viability of coffee pods as compost varies depending on the types of materials used. Pods made from biodegradable bioplastics can only be processed by specialised industrial composting facilities.
Manufacturers like Capsul’in Pro profess that their coffee capsules are 100% biobased and certified home compostable. Special attention should be paid to the fine print on the packaging of coffee pod products to ensure that they are compostable and that they may be disposed of correctly.
In summary, responsible consumership should be practiced when opting for coffee capsule products. A number of brands offer quality beverages packaged in sustainable, biodegradable materials at affordable rates. The step away from single use plastics clogging our landfills starts with a sustainable cup of coffee.
If you’re a coffee lover and also want the best for the environment, check our our other article on this subject – Compostable Coffee Cups: All You Need To Know.