Come in to our daily blog post on biodegradable Nespresso-compatible pods. One can get a lot of fascinating insights, so we hope. Other interesting materials on natural coffee pods are e.g. from leading media publishers, or Moving Beans. Alternatively read our related blog on compostable coffee 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 nevertheless, as plastic capsules turn out to be a more sustainable method of drinking espresso than almost any other approach of making coffee. According to research, recyclable aluminium pods are more environmentally friendly nevertheless the lack of recycling facilities in the UK and the greater energy need to produce the aluminium pods implies plastic capsules are better.
In the UK, nearly one third of homes own an espresso pod machine. Green campaigners, have been crucial of the quick adoption of the coffee capsule, criticising the deluge of waste streaming from the pod-powered coffee machine.
It looks bad for the environment, but that's not the whole story. To comprehend the environmental effect of feeding our coffee habit, it's important to life-cycle assessment studies for the full variety of coffee-making techniques. Alf Hill, professor of chemical engineering at the University of Bath, looked at all the stages of coffee production, from growing the beans to disposal of waste, evaluating the influence on communities, climate modification, and water.
His group found that instant coffee comes out best, however that capsules are the runner up in the ecological impact stakes. Filter or drip coffee comes third, while conventional espresso has the worst environmental impact. "The impact, such as greenhouse gas emissions, water and fertiliser usage, mostly happens where the coffee is grown," says Hill. "Capsules tend to require less coffee input to make a single drink and so their total effect can be lower although we see more waste when we toss them away."
Aside from the environmental impact of growing beans in the very first location, the second most significant hit is the energy it takes to brew coffee. The coffee devices only flash-heat the amount of water required for one portion, unlike, for example, boiling a kettle.
Typical users of a drip filter machine utilize it really inefficient frequently leaving it turned on, if more coffee is made than required. Because instance drip-filter coffee significantly worse than capsules!
Research study by KTH in Stockholm, meanwhile, discovered that filter coffee has the worst ecological impact, because cup for cup, filter coffee uses more beans to prepare a single cup-- about 7 grams, compared to 5.7 grams for capsule coffee. Add that approximately billions of cups of coffee drunk worldwide each year and it quickly creates huge boost of the quantity of coffee beans that have to be grown, collected, processed and transported, plus all the energy required to heat up the water when making the cup.
Regardless of the many studies showing that drip coffee and espressos are in fact worse for the environment than capsules, it is the lowly plastic coffee pod that gets the bum rap. Individuals are simply focussing on how capsules are killing the world, hence the reason for a lot of work is entering into making capsules more sustainable-- due to the fact that there is a sales chance in making them more sustainable, as people think they are bad-- and not due to the fact that it is in fact an unsustainable method of drinking coffee.
A study by Quantis compared the electrical energy consumption during brewing, heating and wasting coffee for single-serve and drip coffee preparation. It found that single-serve coffee uses a precise serving of fresh coffee, which cuts coffee waste, while people making drip coffee often have leftover that they discard. And espresso makers that rest on a gas hob or a warmer use significantly more energy than a capsule device does.
It is agreed that if aluminium capsules are totally and commonly recyclable, they would undoubtedly be better for the environment than plastic ones (even if plastic ones are also extensively recycled). Having stated that, the most current Quantis research recommends that producing plastic pods uses less energy than making aluminium ones, so unless the latter are more extensively recycled, then plastic capsules might come out better.
What about the so called compostable capsules? The difficulty here is they are seldom disposed of correctly. If you throw a compostable capsule into your green bin it will wind up at the community incineration plant, there is no advantage to it being compostable. Producing the compostable capsule pollutes as much or perhaps more than producing a plastic one. If it does end up in a garbage dump, it will deteriorate-- producing methane that will wind up in the atmosphere, creating more greenhouse gas.
If compostable capsules are not tossed away in the regular bin collection cycle however put into unique bins that are taken to compost or, even much better, to biomethanisation centers, then they are much better than aluminium or plastic ones (even if both of these are widely recycled), the problem is, presently it's seldom the case.
Obviously, capsules being better than many other coffee-making approaches doesn't eliminate the fundamental reality that any product that produces waste presents an ecological problem.
Hopefully you have actually seen that it is more frightening and complex than you believed. Every action and option you make has effects, both environmental and otherwise. It's just a concern of which lesser caffeinated evil you pick.
We at coffee company Moving Beans are a company that has been providing compostable coffee capsules for numerous years, with much more information under this link. Do browse a good blog on compostable coffee pods. We were one of the first to sell truly sustainable Nespresso coffee pods.