Majority of Nespresso coffee pods heading to landfill as company ramps up recycling message
Coffee giant Nespresso concedes 71 per cent of its pods are not being recycled, despite a global push to make it more convenient to save aluminium and turn coffee grounds into mulch.
At Steve Martin’s scrap metal recycling business at Nowra on the NSW South Coast, truckloads of deliveries of Nespresso brand coffee pods are received from around Australia.
Here, the pods are unpacked, the coffee grounds are separated and the aluminium pods are shredded and cubed to be sent away to an aluminium smelter.
But pod coffee machine giant Nespresso has a serious environmental battle on its hands.
The majority of its pods are not finding their way to Nowra.
This facility handles only Nespresso’s own brand of coffee pods, not the many other brands that make coffee pods for the Nespresso coffee pod system.
“We are not releasing the total volume we recycle as it’s commercially sensitive information, but globally we’re recycling close to 30 per cent, sitting at 29 per cent,” Nespresso technical and quality manager Marta Fernandez said.
“We’re trying to make it easier for consumers and part of it is awareness of driving the message that they’re [pods] recyclable.
“It’s around communication and to make it easy because we know inherently most people want to do the right thing, but [it comes down to] how much effort will they put into recycling.”
At this stage, Nespresso is only offering recycling for its pods and list the drop-off points on its website.
Other manufacturers offer their own recycling options’.
Using a bin instead of a recycling program
Josh Cole from Planet Ark said people would look for the ‘path of least resistance’ when choosing how to dispose of their coffee pods.
“If the bin is the closest thing, people are more likely to use that than a recycling program, and that applies across every consumable item,” he said.
His organisation has worked with Nespresso to try and help them spread the message of their recycling system and identify why people do not recycle.
Nespresso point out they have recycling drop-off points, bulk collections or postal recycling available to try and encourage people to not send their used pods to landfill.
However, they also face the challenge of being in the business of producing a fast, convenient coffee.
Ms Fernandez concedes adding an extra layer of recycling work for the consumer is a challenge for the company, but believes the message is filtering through.
“As time goes by, sustainability is more important, and we hear stories of people who didn’t want to buy into our system until they were able to recycle [the pods].”
Low recycling rates prove more needs to be done
Josh Cole from Planet Ark said no recycling system was ‘100 per-cent efficient’ because people often lacked the ‘willpower’ to divert their waste from landfill.
“Governments aren’t fond of legislating against these [coffee pod] products, so rather than arguing whether they should exist — which is moot because they already do — we should try and find solutions for them in terms of recycling and waste management.”
Gilmore Labor MP Fiona Phillips is pleased to see pod recycling happening in her electorate, but said the Federal Government should shoulder some of that responsibility.
“The government needs to do much more to encourage recycling, and what else we can recycle depends on government support and policy around encouraging recycling,” she said.
This content was originally published here.