STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 5, Number 2

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70 STiR tea & coffee industry international / Issue 2, 2016 (April/May) HAMBURG, Germany Officials in the coffee-friendly city of Hamburg have banned single-use cap- sules and coffee pods in the most visible indication yet of a growing global backlash against the single-serve format. The green guidelines enforced by Hamburg are not exclusively directed at capsules. Included in the ban are non-refillable plastic bottles, plastic cutlery, plates, and cups, air freshener, and even patio heaters. "Our objective is to increase the share of environmentally friendly prod- ucts significantly, in order to help combat climate change," said Jens Kerstan, Hamburg's environment senator. A champion of sustainable procurement, Kerstan points out that the city cannot justify buying "6 grams of coffee wrapped in 3 grams of packaging." Germans annually consume an estimated 3 billion capsules a year, ac- cording to the city of Hamburg's Department for Environment and Energy. Globally this number is estimated at 50 billion with enough capsules already in landfills to circle the earth 12 times. Market researchers in Europe and North America report that consumer resistance to aluminum and plastic capsules remains a concern. The surge in capsule sales during the past five years has subsided on both continents but growth remains strong with capsule sales now accounting for more than one third of all coffee revenue. Consumption of single-serve coffee increased 2% compared to last year according to the 2016 National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) survey con- ducted annually by the National Coffee Association. Single-serve brewers can be found in 29% of US homes, according to the latest NCDT survey. In a 2014 report Mintel International identified several reasons why con- sumers say they are not interested in single-serve. The top two are the cost of pods (48%) and expense of the machines (41%), "however the third most cited concern is the amount of waste coffee pods generate (37%)." "As environmental consciousness becomes more prominent in the public zeitgeist, concerns over waste are unlikely to dissipate," writes Mintel. The recyclability of capsules varies. Keurig Green Mountain capsules, known as K-Cups, are made of composite plastics that cannot be recycled. Nespresso's capsules are made from easily recycled aluminum but cannot be placed in the green waste stream because the coffee must be removed before smelting. The company has designated 14,000 capsule collection points worldwide enabling 80% to be recycled with a goal of 100% by 2020. Keurig has promised to introduce 100% recyclable capsules by 2020. Nespresso expressed concern over the ban, arguing that "portioned cof- fee makes sense, both economically and in terms of sustainability." In terms of the overall carbon footprint, packaging is a distant third to the energy expended in processing and preparing coffee, according to GreenBlue. Hamburg Bans Coffee Capsules In an effort to reduce waste a major city in Ger- many has banned the purchase of coffee capsules for state office buildings, schools, and universities. "Single-serve packaging is larger than bulk packaging but the savings in heated water and wasted coffee more than compensate for the slighter larger footprint," according to GreenBlue. Meanwhile Boyd's Coffee Company an- nounced it has converted its entire capsule coffee line to 100% compostable pods using Club Cof- fee's proprietary certified biodegradable capsules made from coffee chaff. "We care deeply about our impact on the en- vironment and strive to find ways to protect our planet," said Boyd's c.e.o. Jeffrey Newman. The company unveiled certified compostable capsules at Natural Products Expo West "We bring to mar- ket an innovative and exceptional-tasting single- serve compostable pod that can be converted to useful compost—a welcome alternative solution to the billions of K-Cups filling landfills in our country," said Newman. The company's Keurig- compatible pods are made from 90% renewable resources entirely digestible by bacteria and certi- fied by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI). Vancouver-based G-Cup is expected to reveal a compostable alternative developed in partner- ship with the University of British Columbia. The fibers in the cup compost within four months. Similar alternatives are being developed in Eu- rope where Velibre in Bremen, Germany has de- veloped an environmentally friendly capsule that are 100% biodegradable and firms like K-fee in Bergish-Gladbach are producing Keurig-compat- ible capsules. The Hamburg ban and accompanying 150- page green guidelines view single-use capsules as wasteful packaging and unnecessary given the prevalence of traditional coffee brewers, reusable cups, and utensils. There is no exception for single-use products that are biodegradable or compostable. Hamburg's150-page green guidelines

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