Nespresso launches coffee capsule recycling service in London

Nespresso has this week teamed up the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to recycle consumer aluminium coffee capsules in the local area.

Nespresso exclusively uses aluminium to package coffee as it provides a dual benefit of protecting coffee freshness and quality and being infinitely recyclable

Nespresso exclusively uses aluminium to package coffee as it provides a dual benefit of protecting coffee freshness and quality and being infinitely recyclable

The six-month pilot project will see the council provide a kerbside collection service for Nespresso Club members, who will receive purple bags to place alongside other recycling bins. The capsules will be removed from these households via waste management company Suez, which will then send the pods to a dedicated Nespresso recycling facility, to be recycled into nutrient-rich compost.

“We know recycling is incredibly important to Nespresso Club Members and it remains a top priority for us as a business,” Nespresso UK and Ireland managing director Francisco Nogueira said.

The trial comes seven years after Nespresso set up its own dedicated recycling network, which allows customers to request a collection for used capsules, or drop them off at collection points across the country. The pilot launch will add an easier and more convenient way for Nespresso customers to recycle in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Nogueira said.

“Every week we are seeing an increase in the volume of capsules being sent in by customers through our system,” he said. “But we know there is still much to be done and recycling through the municipal system is something our members have asked for.”

Raising awareness

The UK consumes more than 340 million coffee capsules a year, but most of these pods cannot be recycled at the kerbside. Traditional aluminium capsules contain a fabric filter which can be difficult to separate and therefore hinders the recycling processes, while plastic pods are equally complex with two or three layers of material.

Nespresso exclusively uses aluminium to package coffee as it provides a dual benefit of protecting coffee freshness and quality and being infinitely recyclable. The retailer hopes to increase consumer awareness of the recycling potential behind aluminium.

“Unfortunately, not all our customers are aware that, because our capsules are aluminium, they can be recycled,” Nogueira said. “We are focused on communicating this as much as possible through our boutiques and customer channels to encourage more people to send us back their capsules.”

Coffee conundrum

As the coffee cup recycling debate continues to grab the national headlines, the industry has attempted to find a solution to the 13,500 or so non-biodegradable coffee capsules that ending up in landfill every minute.

Start-up firm Halo Coffee, for instance, claims to have developed the world’s first fully compostable capsule for premium-quality coffee. The capsules, which are compatible with any leading domestic coffee machine, have been designed from a unique blend of bamboo and paper, allowing the pods to dissolve completely within 90 days.

Coffee capsules are just one part of a broader, systemic issue relating to the recyclability of coffee, with takeaway cups representing another major challenge. More than 5,000 coffee cups are discarded every minute in the UK, but less than 1% are actually recycled, due to a plastic lining on the interior of the cups which can’t be recycled by local councils. Big brands such as Costa and Starbucks have, however, recently stepped up efforts to tackle the issue.

Meanwhile, edie last week reported that a joint campaign coordinated by major coffee retailers and business in the London Square Mile was on course to reach its target to recycle half a million coffee cups in the capital in April.

George Ogleby


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