Since their debut in the 1990’s, coffee pods have grown exponentially in popularity. According to Euromonitor, coffee pod sales grew by a whopping 133,710% between 2000 and 2014. Nespresso alone has sold enough coffee pods to circle the world 26 times, while North America’s most popular coffee pod maker, Keurig, sold 10 billion of their K-Cups in 2018.
But after everyone has consumed their pods for the day, where do all those empty tubs of plastic and aluminum go? It’s a question that more and more people are asking. The good news is that coffee pod makers are taking notice and implementing programs to reduce the impact of their products on the environment.
This is making it easier for consumers to help make a difference and consume their coffee in a more ethical manner. There are currently three solutions to help reduce the waste factor of coffee pods. Let’s take a look at them below and find out how you can reduce your footprint.
Plastic pods are easy to recycle. All you need to do is remove the aluminum lid, rinse out any leftover coffee residue and add the pods into your recycling bin for plastic products. The lid, of course, can be recycled in the same place as cans and other aluminum goods.
Since plastic is easier to recycle, it’s worth looking into brands that use the material. For instance, this USDA Certified Organic Nespresso pod alternative is both more affordable than mainstream alternatives and offers a greater range of flavors. You can further reduce your impact by using the leftover coffee residue as compost instead of throwing it away.
Aluminum is also a great material to recycle thanks to its long lifespan and wide range of uses. Even from a manufacturing perspective, recycling is a superior option as its more efficient than refining aluminum ore. It should come as no surprise then that some coffee pod makers want you to drop their pods at a collection point.
These locations can usually be found on the company’s website. If you order your coffee online, you might also be able to give them to the delivery personnel when your new pods arrive. Either way, you still need to rinse the pods and rid them of any excess coffee before handing them over.
There are also coffee pods that can be used as compost. This makes sense, as the leftover coffee grounds inside the pods are already great for flowerbeds and gardens. What’s great is that they don’t have to be cleaned and rinsed. Instead, you can simply throw them into the compost bin.
How You Can Reduce Your Footprint
There are a number of measures you can take to reduce the waste created by coffee pod consumption.
Be sure to separate plastic and aluminum components before recycling.
Visit Terracycle, a company that will take your pods in for recycling. They operate in a variety of locations and offer mailable pouches that you can use to send your pods back to the company.
Find new ways to use leftover coffee grounds. If you don’t have a garden to compost, you can use the coffee as an exfoliator for your skin, an ingredient in desserts, an odor neutralizer, or even an insect repellent.
Indulge in an occasional cup of tea instead of coffee, especially in the evenings when the calming effect of tea will likely help you sleep a little better. Teabags are also fully compostable and usually come in paper packaging.
As you can see, it’s not impossible to continue enjoying your favorite coffee without impacting the environment. Your efforts will build a better future for everyone, so don’t hesitate to keep making a difference.