Recycle Packaging – Nespresso Capsules and the Takeaway Coffee Cup

Ever since Nespresso single serve capsules got third place in the Unpackit Worst Packaging Awards in 2013 we’ve looked out for people returning used capsules whenever we’ve been to the Nespresso showcase store in Newmarket, Auckland. Despite seeing thousands of capsules leave the store we’ve never seen any returned to the store’s recycling point. So where do the used capsules go in New Zealand? As it’s not possible to put them in the kerbside recycling we can only assume they end up as landfill.

Nespresso have been criticised for providing too few collections points globally but according to the Nespresso website they claim to have collect 75% of all capsules sold worldwide in 2013 – without adequate collection facilities it’s hard to fathom how they achieved this. The capsules themselves are made from aluminium making them light to transport and very good to recycle but if they end up in landfill they may as well be made of plastic.

Nespresso Capsule & Coffee Cup

Nespresso coffee tastes great, the machines look cool and the quality of the capsules adds to the premium brand Nespresso have worked hard to build. It’s a pity that the packaging is problematic to recycle but let’s not forget how much gets thrown away when you buy a takeaway coffee from a café. For every cup of Nespresso coffee you dispose of a small aluminium capsule, but for the convenience of a takeaway coffee a paper cup and plastic lid ends up in the bin.

You may think that paper coffee cups get recycled so you’re guilt free, but to be water tight the paper is treated with chemicals and bonded with a thin layer of plastic. This makes them difficult to recycle and as a result New Zealand does not recycle coffee cups. Overseas for those coffee cups that do get recycled the specialised process uses more energy and chemicals than in the recycling of normal paper. All in all the paper cup is not an eco-friendly choice.

Sorry to give you a guilt trip next time you’re enjoying a trim soy latte on the way to work but if you’re truly concerned about the environment you should reconsider your takeaway coffee order because it’s a lot of waste for a caffeine fix.

Coffee addicts don’t despair, with some careful thought and planning we can keep New Zealand green, clean and fueled by caffeine.

Posted 28 February 2015

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