Are consumers ever going to walk away from non sustainable products of convenience such as coffee pods?


Some lifestyle trends are hard to understand, especially when they are not eco-friendly. So, especially as non-coffee drinkers, we never understood the hype around Nespresso coffee pods/capsules. Perhaps it was because we cannot taste the difference? Nor could we understand that these products may offer a “competitive advantage” over traditional filter coffee by requiring less time and effort?

It is estimated that in 2017 alone, Nestle produced around 27 billion Nespresso capsules world-wide, which equates to around 9800 tons of aluminium waste per year. These numbers are quite shocking when you think that aluminium waste takes several hundreds of years to decompose. Nespresso has, of course, launched a recycling scheme which is very successful, especially in some countries such as Germany. However, according to Ecologicaps only 1 out of 5 Nespresso capsules is currently recycled. 


Nespresso on the other hand reports a world-wide recycling rate of 80% since 2015, from its scheme which is available in 30 countries. They have achieved this high rate with the help of “14,000 dedicated capsule collection points operational around the world (additional to over 80,000 UPS points in the US and over 6,000 Green Dot collection points in 3 countries).” Additionally, Nespresso aims to offer a closed loop production cycle by 2020, to convert “end-of-life capsules into new capsule material.”

Nespresso claims that it is using aluminium to create its coffee capsules because it keeps the flavour of the coffee but also because aluminium can be recycled again and again. That is why aluminium is often said to be one of the most environmentally friendly metals on the planet. However, aluminium extraction can affect the environment because 1) it is very hard to extract, 2) it emits perfluorcarbons (greenhouse gas), and 3) the sludge waste which remains after its extraction can be harmful.

Another person who is questioning the environmental impact of coffee capsules is Nespresso’s American competitor Keurig Green Mountain inventor, John Sylvan, who is no longer happy about his invention. He confirms that he no longer uses his own products these days not only because of its high price point but also because of its damaging environmental impact.


Apart from sending their used coffee capsules back to the respective company for recycling, coffee capsules consumers have the option to switch to Ecologicaps. Ecologicaps are refillable and reusable coffee capsules made from stainless steel. Stainless steel is a good alternative to aluminium as it does not contain furan, which is toxic and can be emitted by aluminium. Ecologicaps are available widely to customers wherever they live, as the company ships its products worldwide.

For more information on Ecologicaps:

For more information on the sustainability efforts of Nespresso:!/sustainability/commitments/aluminium

For more information on the inventor of coffee capsules by Keurig Green Mountain:

For more information on aluminium:

For more information on furan: