Compostable coffee pods serve well for greener convenience

A British plastics manufacturer has developed a compostable coffee pod, offering one of the first sustainable packaging alternatives in the single-serve market.

Biome Bioplastics has developed a portfolio of compostable materials for coffee pods based on renewable, natural resources including plant starches and tree by-products.

According to the company these materials will degrade to prescribed international standards in composting environments.

The global coffee capsule market is worth $6.6bn with around 50 different coffee pod or capsule systems on the market, but their convenience comes at a price.

An estimated 9.1 billion single-serve coffee and drink cartridges wind up in US landfills every year, amounting to some 19 million cubic feet of waste.

Coffee-pod machines are also increasingly popular in Britain with usage up by 45.1% between February 2012 and 2013, equating to around 186m capsules.

Single-serve coffee pods are not easily recyclable. Mixed material pods are sent to landfill and those brands that do offer a recycling service have few recycling points and limited collection service.

In response to this Biome Bioplastics saw an opportunity to develop a more sustainable packaging option. The company’s CEO Paul Mines said that the challenge was to reduce environmental impact through material optimisation without impacting on food quality or safety.

“Bio-plastics are an important part of the solution,” he maintained, adding that the company was now working with manufacturers and brands to develop a number of natural polymer-based solutions for the hot drinks industry.

Maxine Perella

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