All About Coffee & Sustainability
The environmental case for sustainable coffee capsules!
The environmental case for sustainable coffee capsules!

The environmental case for sustainable coffee capsules!

We are glad that you are here. There are of course more blogs on coffee, Nespresso pods and compostable coffee pods. Other educational materials on sustainable coffee capsules are for instance from leading media publishers, or Moving Beans. In addition read our good blog on Nespresso pods.

We typically hear that single shot coffee capsules are bad for the environment, because of the energy to grow the beans, make the capsules, brew the coffee, and deal with the waste. There is an upside however, as plastic capsules end up being a more sustainable way of drinking espresso than almost any other method of making coffee. According to research study, recyclable aluminium pods are more environmentally friendly however the lack of recycling facilities in the UK and the greater energy need to produce the aluminium pods suggests plastic capsules are better after all.

In the UK, nearly one third of homes own an espresso pod machine. Green advocates, have actually been crucial of the rapid adoption of the coffee capsule, criticising the deluge of waste streaming from the pod-powered coffee makers.

It looks bad for the environment, however that’s not the whole story. To comprehend the ecological impact of feeding our coffee habit, it’s crucial to life-cycle assessment research studies for the complete series of coffee-making approaches. Alf Hill, teacher of chemical engineering at the University of Bath, took a look at all the stages of coffee production, from growing the beans to disposal of waste, assessing the influence on environments, environment change, and water.

His team discovered that instantaneous coffee comes out best, but that capsules are the runner up in the ecological effect stakes. “Capsules tend to require less coffee input to make a single drink and so their overall impact can be lower even though we see more waste when we throw them away.”

Hill’s research study backs up other research studies carried out during the past few years, which recommend that capsules are ecologically less harmful than alternative coffee-brewing approaches. Aside from the ecological effect of growing beans in the first place, the second most significant hit is the energy it requires to brew coffee. That’s why barista-made espresso fares so severely in terms of its environmental footprint: a great deal of energy is required to brew simply a small single espresso cup. Capsules, on the other hand, are more effective. The coffee devices only flash-heat the quantity of water required for one part, unlike, for instance, boiling a kettle.

Typical users of a drip filter maker use it very ineffective frequently leaving it turned on, if more coffee is made than needed. In that instance drip-filter coffee substantially even worse than capsules!

Research study by KTH in Stockholm, meanwhile, discovered that filter coffee has the worst ecological impact, since cup for cup, filter coffee uses more beans to prepare a single cup– about seven grams, compared to 5.7 grams for capsule coffee. Add that up to billions of cups of coffee drunk around the globe each year and it rapidly creates substantial increase of the amount of coffee beans that need to be grown, gathered, processed and transported, plus all the energy needed to heat up the water when making the cup.

Video: Sustainable and Nespresso Pods by Moving Beans.

Despite the many studies revealing that drip coffee and espressos are actually even worse for the environment than capsules, it is the lowly plastic coffee pod that gets the bum rap. People are just focussing on how capsules are killing the world, for this reason the factor for a great deal of work is going into making capsules more sustainable– because there is a sales opportunity in making them more sustainable, as individuals think they are bad– and not due to the fact that it is actually an unsustainable way of drinking coffee.

A research study by Quantis compared the electrical energy consumption during developing, heating and wasting coffee for single-serve and drip coffee preparation. It discovered that single-serve coffee utilizes a precise serving of fresh coffee, which cuts coffee waste, while people making drip coffee typically have leftover that they throw away. And espresso makers that sit on a gas hob or a hot plate use substantially more energy than a capsule maker does.

It is concurred that if aluminium capsules are completely and commonly recyclable, they would certainly be better for the environment than plastic ones (even if plastic ones are also commonly recycled). Having stated that, the most recent Quantis research suggests that producing plastic pods utilizes less energy than making aluminium ones, so unless the latter are more commonly recycled, then plastic capsules might come out better after all.

What about the so called compostable capsules? The challenge here is they are rarely gotten rid of correctly. If you toss a compostable capsule into your green bin it will wind up at the municipal incineration plant, there is no advantage to it being compostable. Making the compostable capsule pollutes as much or perhaps more than producing a plastic one. If it does end up in a landfill, it will deteriorate– producing methane that will wind up in the environment, creating more greenhouse gas.

However, if compostable capsules are not gotten rid of in the regular bin collection cycle but put into unique bins that are required to garden compost or, even better, to biomethanisation facilities, then they are much better than aluminium or plastic ones (even if both of these are commonly recycled), the issue is, presently it’s seldom the case.

Obviously, capsules being much better than the majority of other coffee-making approaches does not take away the basic truth that any product that creates waste poses an environmental problem.

Ideally you have actually seen that it is more complicated and frightening than you thought. Every action and option you make has consequences, both environmental and otherwise. It’s just a question of which lower caffeinated evil you select.

They, Moving Beans, are a start-up that has provided compostable coffee pods for endless years, with much more info under Moving Beans. Or check out an interesting blog on compostable Nespresso pods. They were the first to sell truly aluminium-free Nespresso-compatible coffee pods.