Nestlé, the owner of Nespresso and Nescafé Dolce Gusto, and Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) UK which makes Tassimo have joined forces to set up UK’s first national recycling scheme.
The manufacturers of the UK’s three biggest coffee pod brands are working together to tackle the backlash against single-serve capsules, as it is often criticised for the pods being difficult to recycle, contributing to the landfill.
The pods contain a complex mix of plastic, foil and aluminium, combined with coffee dregs can make pods difficult to recycle and process in standard recycling plants.
Next year, they are launching the first system to make it easier and more convenient for consumers to recycle pods in a number of different ways.
They are inviting local councils to provide kerbside collection for pods alongside other household recycling. Consumers will also be able to bring them to 6,500 Yodel dropoff points, and eventually recycle by handing the pods over to the driver when their online supermarket shopping has been delivered.
A new non-profit organisation, Podback will be running the national scheme. It aims to replace a ‘complex patchwork’ of different recycling services.
Nespresso’s UK recycling scheme and Tassimo and L’OR pod TerraCycle system will be phased out.
Nespresso sells about 14bn pods out of the estimated total of 20bn globally through its online store and 810 boutiques in 84 countries.
Coffee pod usage soared in recent years but with the Covid pandemic and into second national lockdown, Britons are now drinking more at home. The market research company Mintel has forecast that the UK retail value sales of coffee pods will reach £260m this year, up from £210m in 2018.
The’ research highlights 35% of people who use coffee pods are unaware they can be recycled, and nine out of 10 saying they would like to be able to recycle their pods through their household recycling.
Exeter city council, Cheltenham borough council and South Derbyshire district council are expected to be the first confirmed local authority partners, while conversations are continuing with others.
Toby Bevans, the marketing director of JDE UK and Ireland and director of Podback, said:
We are proud to be a co-founder of Podback, working to ensure that every pod enjoyed is easily recycled. With Nestlé, we are calling on the entire industry to put commercial rivalries aside and collaborate, working together with other brands and retailers to make it as easy as possible for consumers to recycle their pods.
Trewin Restorick, the chief executive of the environmental charity Hubbub, welcomed the plans while urging more transparency.
It is hugely encouraging to see major companies collaborating to boost coffee pod recycling. Hopefully this service will eventually be available through all local authority household recycling collection schemes and the companies will be transparent about how many pods are recycled.
The co-founders urge other single-serve coffee pod manufacturers to back the new national recycling scheme.