The consumption of coffee in capsules has grown and conquered the world. The city of Hamburg, Germany, banned its use in public buildings and re-started the debate: what to do with the residues of coffee capsules?
John Sylvan, the inventor of the capsule, has already stated in an interview that he regrets his creation and the environmental impact caused by it. The patent expired in 2012 and since then the brands investing in this market have multiplied.
The manufacturers defend the charges and invest in the collection and treatment of waste generated by such packaging. The packaging is made of plastic or aluminum and, after use, the coffee residue remains, making recycling complex. So there is this deadlock over the fate of garbage. In Portugal alone, more than 40% of households have a coffee machine.
Nespresso, the main player in the market, in partnership with Banco Alimentar Contra a Fome (Food Bank Against Hunger) in Portugal, leads the project “Recycling is Food”. The program takes care of the separation of the aluminum, which is then recycled, and of the coffee grounds, which becomes fertilizer. This is used in rice plantations in the country. The rice is subsequently donated to the Food Bank. Over 5 years, more than 320 tons of rice were delivered.
An innovative alternative is underway, sugar coated capsules. Composed of three parts: sugar, coffee powder and milk, it dissolves in hot water, thus producing coffee. Created by a designer from Singapore, Eason Chow, the Droops coffee maker uses the capsules and its price will be around 110 euros.
While there is no consensus as to the future of coffee in capsules, bring yours to the collection points.
Originally posted in my i9 magazine column on 04/18/2016 and updated on 10/24/2017.