A guide to switching to eco-friendly coffee pods
Coffee pods are a great, convenient way to get a delicious caffeine hit. They typically provide a better taste profile than instant coffee and save you from making the trip to your local coffee shop for a barista-made drink. That said, coffee pods are a high-consumption, disposable item and globally, 30,000 pods made from non-recyclable plastics go into landfill each month.
The typical composition of a coffee pod capsule is a blend of aluminium and plastic, which makes them difficult to recycle and it can take an estimated 500 years for them to degrade. Needless to say, this is a lot of unnecessary waste that is being generated for our convenience. At the Eden Project, as part of our mission to respond to the biodiversity and climate crises, we want to help people make more informed and conscious shopping choices. Small steps can make a big difference, so why not start with your favourite cuppa?
What is the impact of single-use coffee pods?
As we’ve highlighted above, the use of disposable coffee capsules is causing an influx of these non-recyclable materials to end up in landfill. Not only does landfill replace valuable habitat space, it also emits huge amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and releases harmful materials and chemical pollutants into the environment, in fact 19 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the environment each year, and much of this has ‘leaked’ from landfill.
The more waste that ends up in landfill, the more general pollution of the planet and single-use, non-recyclable coffee pods are contributing to this waste due to their high turnover.
Can you get environmentally friendly coffee pods?
Yes, there are many plastic-free, biodegradable, compostable and recycled coffee pods on the market. However, it is important to be mindful of the product specifications. Be sure to read the packaging to determine the physical composition of the pods, and consider additional factors such as the production and sourcing of the coffee in the pods to ensure this is also sustainable and ethical all the way down the supply chain.
Waste-management systems can vary from country to country and council to council, and not all coffee capsules that are advertised as compostable or biodegradable may break down efficiently in all systems. Ensure that when disposing of your pods, you do so appropriately according to your local waste disposal guidelines, and check this before you invest in coffee pods or a coffee pod machine.
What are the different types of environmentally friendly coffee pods?
There are different types of coffee pods made of different materials that can be considered eco-friendly, these include but aren’t limited to:
- Recyclable coffee pods - some coffee pods can be recycled through the manufacturer. These tend to be made from aluminium or recyclable plastics and must usually be posted back to the retailer to facilitate this process, which can have its own environmental impact.
- Recycled coffee pods - some capsules are made from recycled materials, such as plastics, which contributes to reducing waste by giving the old plastic a new use. This promotes the move towards a circular economy, as it results in fewer virgin materials being extracted and less waste going to landfill.
- Reusable coffee pods - reusable coffee pods can be made from food-safe materials such as silicone or stainless steel and can be filled with ground coffee. While this may be slightly less convenient than ready-to-go pods, it still provides a quicker coffee experience than a bean-to-cup machine. The grounds from the pods can then be composted and the capsule itself washed, ready to be used the next time.
- Biodegradable coffee pods - other coffee pods are made from biodegradable materials. This means that should they end up in landfill, they will break down naturally.
- Compostable coffee pods - some coffee pods, like the ones we sell at the Eden Project Shop are made from biodegradable, plant-based materials, such as sugarcane or corn starch, and can also be composted at home in the right conditions.
What are the challenges of switching to biodegradable coffee pods?
In theory, it’s simply a case of choosing a product with better eco credentials, but at the Eden Project, we understand that availability, accessibility and affordability may create barriers against making the switch.
Another challenge may be that of taste. If you’re used to the flavours of your favourite pods, it may not seem appealing to change. We’re trying to overcome some of these key barriers by providing a range of affordable, high-quality and delicious eco-friendly coffee capsules that you can purchase easily online from our shop.
What are the benefits of switching to biodegradable coffee pods?
There are many benefits to switching to biodegradable coffee pods, including the reduction of waste, and in turn the reduction of harmful pollutants into the environment. This also helps you to reduce your own footprint and work towards a more sustainable way of living.
By making the switch, you’re championing better standards for all, as it reflects your awareness and concern for environmental issues which you can share with those around you.
At the Eden Project, we’re all about pushing for positive change. Increased demand for environmentally friendly coffee products prompts the industry to implement change, encouraging innovation and more widespread eco-friendly practices.
Discover Eden Project’s own range of eco-friendly, biodegradable coffee capsules
All of our coffee pods are crafted from biodegradable materials and are Nespresso® compatible*, so you can enjoy a tasty cup of coffee while reducing waste. They’re made from biodegradable bioplastic and produced using renewable energy to avoid the impact on nature that many coffee production processes can have.
The capsules can be disposed of in your council garden waste, or you can compost them in your garden or indoor composting container. The used coffee grounds inside our pods can also be added to your garden soil to increase nitrogen-rich matter which can help your plants to thrive.
Not only are the pods themselves better for nature, the coffee inside them is sourced from certified ethical farms that treat their workers fairly and use sustainable agricultural practices.
*Compatible with original Nespresso machines (not Vertuo model)
Here are some of our favourites:
Commit to better shopping choices and browse all of our delicious coffee pods here at Eden Project Shop.