Club Coffee is launching what it says will be the world's first completely compostable single-serve pod this fall.
But analysts are still brewing over the breakthrough potential of the new product. Can it be a solution to the ongoing pollution problem plaguing North America's fast-growing, multibillion-dollar single-serve coffee market?
“The amount of used single-serve pods sent to landfills last year could have circled the earth 11 times," noted Club Coffee chief executive officer, John Pigott, announcing the launch of the company's PürPod 100.
"As a large manufacturer and distributor of packaged coffee, we have a responsibility to our customers, and to society, to reduce the environmental impact of our activities,” Pigott said.
Pigott called the completely compostable PürPod 100 "the most viable solution" to the environmental pod problem.
Developed by researchers at the University of Guelph, the PürPod 100 is made of bio-based materials All parts of the pods are designed to be digestible to bacteria. That includes the ring of the pod, which is made using coffee chaff, the skin that comes off coffee beans during the roasting process.
Compatible with most Keurig brewing systems, including the new Keurig 2.0 brewers, the PürPod100 will roll out this fall in America under the Kauai Coffee, Chock full o’Nuts and Hills Bros. brands of coffee maker Massimo Zanetti Beverage.
Club Coffee, which is based in Toronto, does not have a date yet for a Canadian launch. The pod continues to undergo testing to meet U.S. and international composting standards.
For management and strategy expert Dirk Matten, developing new products like the PürPod 100 is a smart move for a coffee company in a mature market like Canada where innovations that help with the environmental impact of pods and single-serve cups is key to driving volumes higher.
"They have clearly smelled the coffee on this issue," quipped Matten, who is Hewlett-Packard chair in corporate social responsibility at York University's Schulich School of Business in Toronto. "I think a fully compostable pod is a very interesting idea."
Matten believes market success for the PürPod 100 will hinge on whether consumers will actually compost them, and on whether municipalities will accept them in their compostable recycling boxes.
"This new product raises questions that will need to be answered," said Matten.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Club Coffee is based in Seattle. The company is located in Toronto. The article also stated that the PürPod 100 will launch in Canada this fall. In fact, no date has been set.