STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 4, Number 5

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Page 44 of 67

STiR tea & coffee industry international 45 critics, and websites like TreeHugger that consider capsules to be "de- signed for unsustainability." Adoption has slowed with brewer sales down 36%, according to Keurig Green Mountain. LBP director of marketing Lauren Mikos said that "some of the new- ness has worn off." While it is hard to quantify, the combination of social media criticism and consumer guilt has contributed to slowing sales. Composting Recycling coffee capsules is much more challenging than sleeves. Even readily usable aluminum capsules pose a problem as the coffee must be removed prior to composting and smelting. See p. 45, Nespresso's Recycling Solution LBP, Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee, Rogers Family Co., TreeHouse Foods, and others manufacture polypropylene rings and filters that can be recycled. These are improvements over composite plastics used by Keurig that are not recyclable. Adoption of eco-friendly capsules is modest be- cause Keurig and its licensed partners hold an estimated 89% market share. The company has pledged to make its capsules recyclable by 2020. "It's incumbent on a brand to push the envelop in that space," says Denniston. Like the others LBP is blazing an incremental path toward sustainability. Unlike the attainable targets established early in the 20-year evolution of coffee sleeves, when it comes to capsules there are fewer environmentally friendly options. In most municipalities objects under two inches fall through the rotat- ing trommel during the initial separation and are sent to landfills. Since capsules contain food waste, composting is the ideal but there are only 4,914 composting operations in the US of which 3,453 (70%) process yard trimmings. Only 347 accept food waste. Only 180 communities have instituted residential food scrap collection. "Infrastructure in most states in the US in not fully developed yet to allow for compostable packaging to reach industrial compost facilities," writes Julia Schifter, business development manager at flexible packaging manufacturer Tipa Corp. She is hopeful that "more active engagement by brand owners, retail- ers and regulators may definitely succeed in creating the necessary waste collection infrastructure needed to collect these packages from end-users to the relevant compost facilities." Toronto-based Club Coffee is the first capsule manufacturer to de- velop a certified compostable capsule. "Diverting products associated with food residuals away from dispos- al is complicated, and BPI certification is a critical piece of the process, ensuring that items will break down in a timely manner in the appropriate composting environment, and not have a negative impact on the quality of the finished compost," according to Rhodes Yepsen, executive direc- tor, BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute). "Until now, consumers have had no options other than adding single- serve pods to their garbage. In today's market, some pods claim to be partially biodegradable, while others tout some recyclability – but none of those claims are backed by independent third-party validation," says John Pigott, c.e.o. of Club Coffee. Club and its brand partners now face the uphill task of convincing municipalities to accept their compostable capsules in the green waste stream. Some have expressed concern that a campaign to compost cap- sules will lead consumers to toss non-compostable capsules into the wrong bin. See p. 48, From Cup to Compost As challenging as this sounds, capsules ultimately may be a better choice for the world's environment than traditional brewed coffee for most coffee drinkers, suggests Denniston. Nespresso's Recycling Solution "The Positive Cup" is Nespresso's six-year, $550 million sus- tainability strategy, which covers coffee sourcing, aluminum and capsule recycling, and changing climate. One of its goals is to develop the capacity to collect for recycling "100% used capsules globally" by 2020 accord- ing to Nespresso which currently has the capacity to collect more than 80% of the capsules it sells. The company's used capsules can be recycled in 34 countries worldwide. The company aims to convert licensed capsules into new ones where environmentally appropriate. Plastic fac- similes are not accepted. When required, sourcing of 100% of virgin aluminum is compliant with the Aluminum Steward- ship Initiative standard. The program also calls for 100% sustainably sourced coffee and for its coffee operations to be carbon neutral. "Nespresso cannot achieve these objectives alone," said c.e.o. Jean-Marc Duvoisin. That is why the company is teaming up with many partners, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Fairtrade International, the Rainforest Alliance, Pur Projet, and TechnoServe. Nespresso has recycled capsules since 1991. Swiss households have 99% capacity to recycle with doorstep recycling and 2,600 collection points and recycling facilities. There are 14,000 Nespresso collection points worldwide. Coffee grounds removed from capsules will soon be used as natural fertilizer and to generate electricity in Vaud where a biogas plant will convert 3,000 tons of coffee annu- ally into enough energy to power 1,000 homes. Nespresso even uses recycled aluminum to make the panels of some of its Pixie coffee machines. Composting is emerging as the fastest growing solid waste diversion opportunity in the US. Nespresso partners with TerraCycle and AgChoice, two US companies that spe- cialize in efficient recycling that has positive effects on the environment. Nespresso has three recycling options to allow consumers to conveniently return their capsules, including 500 collection points across the country. Mobile apps and a consumer website help Nespresso club members identify the closest collection point. Nespresso also partners with UPS to offer recycling bags for consumers to mail back used capsules from various UPS locations. Consumers can also take their used capsules to any Nespresso Boutique, or they can return them at par- ticipating retail locations, where 100% of returned capsules will be recycled after extracting coffee grounds for compost. Recycled aluminum requires only 5% of the energy to mine and smelt an ingot from bauxite and requires only 10% of the capital investment in equipment. There is no limit on the number of times aluminum can be recycled. Americans recycle more than 50 billion aluminum cans annually.

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