The environmental case for eco-friendly coffee capsules!

The environmental case for eco-friendly coffee capsules!

A big welcome to our daily blog post on Nespresso-compatible pods. You can find a lot of intriguing insights, so we really hope. Other interesting posts on natural coffee pods are for instance from leading media publishers, or Moving Beans. Or go through our related blog on compostable coffee pods.

We typically hear that single shot coffee pods are not good for the environment, because of the energy to grow the beans, make the capsules, brew the coffee, and get rid of the waste. There is an upside however, as plastic capsules end up being a more sustainable way 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 centers in the UK and the higher energy requirement to produce the aluminium pods implies plastic capsules are better.

In the UK, nearly one third of families own an espresso pod device. Green campaigners, have been critical of the fast 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 understand the ecological impact of feeding our coffee practice, it's crucial to life-cycle evaluation studies for the complete series of coffee-making methods. Alf Hill, professor 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, evaluating the influence on ecosystems, environment change, and water.

His group discovered that instant coffee comes out best, however that capsules are the runner up in the ecological effect stakes. "Capsules tend to require less coffee input to make a single beverage and so their total effect can be lower even though we see more waste when we toss them away."

Hill's research backs up other research studies conducted during the past couple of years, which recommend that capsules are ecologically less hazardous than alternative coffee-brewing methods. Aside from the environmental impact of growing beans in the first place, the 2nd biggest hit is the energy it takes to brew coffee. That's why barista-made espresso fares so terribly in terms of its ecological footprint: a lot of energy is required to brew simply a small single espresso cup. Capsules, on the other hand, are more effective. The coffee makers only flash-heat the quantity of water needed for one portion, unlike, for instance, boiling a kettle.

Normal users of a drip filter device use it very ineffective frequently leaving it turned on, if more coffee is made than required. In that instance drip-filter coffee considerably even worse than capsules!

Research study by KTH in Stockholm, meanwhile, discovered that filter coffee has the worst environmental 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 approximately billions of cups of coffee drunk around the world each year and it rapidly develops substantial boost of the amount of coffee beans that need to be grown, gathered, processed and transported, plus all the energy needed to warm the water when making the cup.

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

Despite the many research studies showing that drip coffee and espressos are in fact even 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-- since there is a sales opportunity in making them more sustainable, as people believe they are bad-- and not due to the fact that it is in fact an unsustainable way of drinking coffee.

A study by Quantis compared the electrical energy usage throughout brewing, heating and losing coffee for single-serve and drip coffee preparation. It found that single-serve coffee utilizes a specific serving of fresh coffee, which cuts coffee waste, while individuals making drip coffee often have remaining that they discard. And espresso makers that sit on a gas hob or a hot plate use significantly more energy than a capsule machine does.

It is concurred that if aluminium capsules are fully and widely recyclable, they would indeed be much better for the environment than plastic ones (even if plastic ones are likewise commonly recycled). Having said that, the most recent Quantis research suggests that producing plastic pods utilizes less energy than making aluminium ones, so unless the latter are more widely recycled, then plastic capsules might come out better.

What about the so called compostable capsules? The difficulty here is they are seldom dealt with properly. If you toss a compostable capsule into your green bin it will end up at the local incineration plant, there is no benefit to it being compostable. Making the compostable capsule pollutes as much or perhaps more than producing a plastic one. If it does wind up in a land fill, it will deteriorate-- producing methane that will end up in the environment, producing more greenhouse gas.

If compostable capsules are not tossed away in the regular bin collection cycle but put into special bins that are taken to compost or, even better, to biomethanisation centers, then they are much better than aluminium or plastic ones (even if both of these are commonly recycled), the issue is, currently it's rarely the case.

Naturally, capsules being better than a lot of other coffee-making approaches does not take away the basic reality that any product that generates waste presents an environmental issue.

Hopefully you have actually seen that it is more frightening and complicated than you believed. Every action and option you make has effects, both ecological and otherwise. It's simply a concern of which lesser caffeinated evil you select.

We at coffee company Moving Beans are a company that has provided compostable Nespresso-compatible capsules for a long time, with much more information under Moving Beans. Alternatively browse a pertinent blog on coffee pods. We were the first to provide aluminium-free coffee capsules.


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