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The Rise of the Coffee Pod Machine

Date: 09-Aug-16
Author: Ryan Collins

Coffeeholics Anonymous - for sustainable coffee use © Rebecca Gredley

Do you find it hard in the mornings to kick into gear without a caffeine hit? Perhaps it's an instant coffee, a plunger, a cafe takeaway or a pod machine coffee. 

Over the past few years coffee pod machines have become increasingly popular. Their convenience has meant they are popping up in homes and workplaces around the country. It also means the waste stream produced from these machines is new and growing.

As a general rule reusable items have a lower resource and waste impact than those designed to be used just once, think of shopping bags and coffee cups. Most pods are single-use so if you’re using a machine it’s important to look for options to reduce their waste impact, especially appropriate recycling programs.   

Most pods are made from aluminium and/or plastic along with the coffee grounds. The more materials a pod contains, the more difficult it is to separate and recycle. The aluminium and plastic are separated and recycled while the coffee grounds are composted.

Waste Reduction Options

Nespresso pods are made from aluminium and are easy to recycle. A postage-paid Australia Post Recycling Satchel to collect and return used Nespresso pods can be purchased. It holds up to 130 capsules.

TerraCycle runs a recycling program for Nespresso with drop off locations in their Boutiques and hundreds of florists. TerraCycle also have a free post-back recycling programs for NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto Capsule and other types of coffee pods.   

There is also a range of capsules called Eco-Caffe made from bio-degradable material. The manufacturer reports the pods breakdown in 180 days in a commercial composter (the kind that councils use to compost food waste). 


Ryan                                              Collins
Author: Ryan Collins

Ryan is the Head of Sustainable Resource Programs at Planet Ark. After nearly a decade working in the banking and finance industry Ryan was drawn to a career in environmental conservation that saw him work in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Fiji. With a background in psychology and environmental management, Ryan’s role at Planet Ark since 2012 has been focused on developing engaging and positive environmental behaviour change programs to help everyone recycle and reduce waste.

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