Single-serve coffee capsules go green

9/24/2012

Would you like some environmental sustainability with your morning coffee? A new line of single-serve java capsules, scheduled to hit store shelves in Montreal this winter, is set to give a jolt to the pre-packaged ground coffee market.

The products, made by Ethical Coffee Company of Fribourg, Switzerland, are biodegradable, cheaper than the capsules currently crowding coffee aisles, and don’t require caffeine-loving customers to buy a new coffee machine, according to an article in the Montreal Gazette.

One product even allows customers to fill the pods themselves with their choice of blend.

Coffee capsules, used at-home in special coffeemakers that only require a flick of a switch, represent the fastest growing segment of Canada’s coffee market.

Currently, that market is dominated by Nestlé, which produces Nespresso and Dolce Gusto, Kraft Foods, which makes Tassimo T Discs, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, makers of Keurig K-Cup.

In 2010, capsule sales accounted for seven per cent of total sales of ground coffee according to Nielsen research cited by the Gazette. This year, sales reached 26 per cent and continue to climb.

But the capsules are not friends of the environment – their design makes recycling onerous and time-consuming for consumers.

After the coffee has been brewed, caffeine-deprived consumers cannot simply throw the capsule into the recycling bin. First, they have to pierce the aluminum cap, peel it back and scoop out the coffee grinds.

Ethical Coffee’s new line of products promises to simplify the recycling process, and can be brewed in Nestlé’s Nespresso machines (negotiations are underway for a second line of products that can fit Caffitaly machines).

The environmentally-friendly pods have prompted some of the big players to review their capsule designs.

Nespresso is looking to step up the recycling efforts of their aluminum pods. Others are developing more environmentally friendly materials for their capsules, now made of foil paper and plastic.

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