Green or sustainable? Bioplastics are infiltrating our supermarket shelves, but are they truly good for the world?

Green or sustainable? Bioplastics are infiltrating our supermarket shelves, but are they truly good for the world?

A big welcome to our day-by-day blog post on biodegradable coffee pods. You will discover a great deal of fascinating facts, so we really hope. Other meaningful articles on natural coffee pods are for instance from leading media publishers, or Moving Beans. Or browse our good article on compostable Nespresso-compatible pods.

Ever been tricked by a synthetic flower arrangement? Ever admired the foliage only to find that (upon closer evaluation) the arrangement is in truth a fraud? Greenwashing works in a really comparable way - brand names harnessing deceptive marketing to encourage you that an item is environmentally friendly and therefore "much better for the environment".

Sadly, much of these organizations assume consumers have their head in the sand, and in the coffee pods industry in particular, we're definitely seeing these type of marketing techniques on the rise. Reassuring words like "recyclable", "naturally degradable", "plant based" and "compostable" truly put your mind at ease, right? But on a practical level, what do these terms actually imply and are they actually as good as they sound?

We get that sometimes it's easiest to pop your first option in the shopping trolley and individuals are certainly attempting their best to make the best choices, so it's far from reasonable that daily buyers are being misled.

Do not be tricked by sly marketing methods or complicated terminology and labelling - we've assembled the information you require to prevent being greenwashed. Are the coffee pods you're using really "green"? Let's learn.

Fake environmentally friendly items: Are your coffee capsules sustainable?

Most cluey consumers are becoming smart to the fact that the option that is "recyclable" coffee pods isn't as simple and terrific as we've been led to believe. The process of recycling capsules is neither kind nor convenient to the environment.

For lots of consumers, the rigmarole around recycling their pods prevents them from following through - it has actually been stated that of the 13,500 capsule coffees taken in every minute, just 21% make it through to the recycling process. Some brands require to be dropped at specific collection points, published directly to the business, or even need disassembling and cleaning up before the elements can be recycled individually - general, the procedure is highly energy-intensive.

Possibly because of this, the former Nespresso CEO estimates the worldwide rate of recycling for coffee pods to be less than 5%. Additionally, with the energy required to transfer and process the capsules in a recycling center, is this really a sustainable alternative at all, or simply a bandaid solution for a much larger concern?

Ultimately, the problem is not whether they can be recycled or not. Of course it is much better to recycle something than not, however the bottom line is that it's better to not produce the waste at all.

Issue = Recyclable pods can not be recycled through domestic bins + the recycling procedure has a high carbon footprint

Recycling coffee pods is a bandaid option for a much larger waste problem

When it comes to pods what does "plant-based" even indicate, and what's it got to do with how the capsule is disposed of? To the typical individual, it sure sounds wholesome, positive and charming - however are they a much better option than disposable, plastic pods?

Well, the primary claim you'll usually discover here is that part of the pod packaging includes particular percentage of plant-based product. Typically, the products will be originated from a renewable resource, such as corn or sugarcane. If you look closely, typically these are likewise identified as "degradable". Here's the kicker: degradable is not to be confused with biodegradable, since anything that is degradable will not completely break down into the soil when it winds up in garbage dump. Rather, it develops into small pieces of plastic that will never break down, contributing to the micro plastics issue we're currently battling in our oceans and waterways.

Basically, when these end up in landfill or our environment, they cause more harm than good. In our modest opinion? This is probably not a fantastic alternative.

Problem = The bulk of plant-based pods just break down into small micro plastics

Compostable/ eco-friendly coffee pods made from plant-based products like corn and sugarcane

This is where things get complicated. Biodegradable and compostable - they're kind of the very same, but kind of ... not. With sustainability "trends" increasing, compostable and naturally degradable coffee pod options are now abundant. Packaged beautifully with "greener" messaging playing a crucial function, they sure do look excellent on the outside.

Let's break this down (pun intended): Products that compost or biodegrade can certainly be great for decreasing waste, if disposed of correctly. Just because a product is identified as "compostable", it does not always imply that it will break down in your house compost.

Video: Sustainable and Nespresso-compatible Pods by Moving Beans.

Typically, coffee pods made completely of bioplastics need commercial composting (industrially heats, wetness levels, and UV light) to disintegrate within any sensible timespan. Even still, these materials can leave harmful and behind micro-fragments residues.

It's an obscure truth that, regrettably, it's not likely your house composting system has what it requires to break down your naturally degradable pods. Some councils supply commercial composting through their kerbside green waste collection, however they might restrict items identified eco-friendly or compostable, so it's vital that you verify. Always be sure to consult your regional council to see if they accept bioplastic first before getting rid of.

So if you wanted a coffee pod that's safe to put straight in your garden compost bin, we can understand how this could be confusing. Some red flags to look out for (in fine print on the back of product packaging, or at the extremely base/footer of a site) are lines like:

" They are recyclable and biodegradable, however not compostable."

" In order for compostable capsules to break down in 90 days, capsules should be processed through a commercial composting center." or

" Please call your local council prior to disposing in your green bin."

When it concerns compostable products in general, ideally you wish to look for items that are Australian accredited as "Home Compostable" by the Australian Bioplastics Association, guaranteeing they're labelled as safe for composts, are made from vegetable material and are plastic free - phew!

Secret takeaway? Always research study and check out the great print on how to compost each brand name before you buy if it looks and feels like plastic.

Issue = Many compostable & biodegradable pods need commercial composting facilities to breakdown

Bioplastic coffee pods: Sustainable, or greenwash? If they look like plastic, think twice

As you know, every product requires basic materials to be mined/grown/manufactured, processed, packaged, and shipped. This is rather an energy-hungry, brief life for a such a small portion of coffee. The energy output of production is so fantastic, that no single-use item can compare to a reusable product - even if it's recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable.

When it comes to a pre-portioned pack of coffee, multiple-use capsules get this. The more your pod is reused, the more sustainable each cuppa.

Aside from having the ability to select your preferred brand name of coffee, there's another secret benefit to filling your own pods: it's much more cost-effective than purchasing disposable pods. If you're on a tight spending plan, invest in a pack of reusables and see your cost savings roll in.

In saying this, when it concerns reusable, it's still crucial to be greenwash-aware. Something to bear in mind when shopping for any multiple-use item, is that quality and durability are essential - cheaper, unfortunately is rarely "better". Some red flags to look out for:

Flimsy plastic recyclable pods with an exceptionally minimal life-span (e.g. 30 usages).

Plastic reusable pods that are not BPA free, food safe and so on

Reusable pods that come packaged in plastic.

Pods from any business or site that does not offer any details on it's sustainability practices (even if a product is "naked" on the shelf, doesn't imply it's upstream supply chain was pollution-free).

We at coffee company Moving Beans are a start-up that has provided compostable coffee capsules for many years, with much more news under this link. In addition go through a related blog on coffee pods. We were one of the first to deliver sustainable Nespresso coffee capsules.


Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing