Nespresso has instituted a fairly sophisticated recycling program in the UK and around the entire globe for the re-use of its coffee pods. There are several different ways that these pods can be recycled, so at least one of them should be very convenient for all purchasers of the pods, regardless of your location.
Halo, a company that produces compostable coffee pods itself, estimates that globally, more than 56 billion pods end up in the landfills of the world. This is a staggering amount, and while it’s a testament to the popularity of the coffee capsules, it also represents a growing waste threat to many areas. That’s why Nespresso has mounted some aggressive campaigns to make consumers aware of the need to recycle these pods, both to save on waste, and to conserve resources for the future.
How to recycle Nespresso pods in the UK
There are more than 6,500 collection points in the UK for recycling used Nespresso pods. Make sure not to just drop them off at any ordinary recycling spot, because they require special recycling due to their unique manufacture. If you order your Nespresso online, add some recycling bags to your order, and if you purchase your pods at a boutique, make sure to ask for 1-2 recycle bags.
Each of these recycling bags can hold up to 150 single-serve capsules, so it takes quite a bit to fill up a single bag. When you turn in your pods for recycling, they will have to be contained in one of these special recycling bags. Then, you can either drop off your recycled pods at the same boutique, go to one of the CollectPlus collection locations, or you can request a Nespresso curbside pickup of your pods.
Nespresso has also co-founded a program called Podback, in which pods can be placed in Podback bags and left curbside with other recycling materials for pickup. The Cheltenham Borough Council and South Derbyshire District Council have made periodic announcements to the public stating that Nespresso and several other types of pods can be recycled in this way.
To summarize, here are your options for recycling Nespresso pods:
- Request recycling bags (they’re free) when you order Nespresso online
- Take your filled recycling bags to one of the many collection points
- Contact Nespresso and ask for a curbside pickup of your used pods
- If you live in an area where Podback collection is in effect, leave your recycled pods at the curb with other recyclables
- Return your used pods to the same boutique where you bought your Nespresso pods.
What does Nespresso do with recycled pods?
When Nespresso receives recycled pods, the first thing they do is to separate the coffee grinds from the aluminum material. The grinds will then be recycled into compost or topsoil, to deliver added value for the future. The aluminum will be used to create new products that require some kind of aluminum content, and in some cases, it will even be used in creating a new generation of Nespresso pods.
What can be done with used coffee grinds?
Recycled coffee grinds do actually have some value and can be used to enrich compost material that will then be applied to various cultivation initiatives. Both the grinds and the pods which they originally come in can have useful functions again, which is why it’s very important to recycle them conscientiously. It would be terribly wasteful to just throw them away, because that would require all new products to be made from scratch and would use even more resources. By recycling the coffee grinds and the pods, a more sustainable model is achieved, and fewer resources are needed to manufacture the next generation of Nespresso pods.
What kinds of problems do people have with recycling Nespresso pods?
Probably the single biggest problem associated with the recycling of Nespresso pods is that many people do not realize the pods are recyclable, and simply dump them in the waste basket along with other discarded materials. This has the potential to create a hazard in landfills, and some places such as Hamburg, Germany have actually instituted a ban on the pods because of the potential hazard.
Nespresso itself has actually instituted several advertising campaigns to raise user awareness about recycling their pods, and this is finally beginning to gain some traction. Even though there are numerous collection points around the UK for recycling the pods, some users cannot easily get to one of these points, and simply opt for the more convenient disposal of the pods locally. This is another case of not being aware of the options for recycling, however, because Nespresso will actually come to your doorstep to retrieve the used pods if you call them and let them know you need a pickup.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How many Nespresso pods are actually recycled in the UK each year?
A: According to British compostable coffee producer Halo, there are approximately 39,000 pods created every minute around the world, with roughly 29,000 of them eventually reaching landfills. That means only about 25% of all produced pods are recycled, and the UK would be one of the larger recycling countries.
Q: Can Nespresso pods be placed in a recycling bin?
A: No, they cannot, because they’re too small. They are also manufactured in a unique way with plastic and aluminum and cannot be processed by the majority of recycling plants.
Q: Can my Nespresso machine be recycled?
A: The best way to get continued use from your Nespresso machine is to use it for preparing other hot drinks like tea, hot chocolate, or just to heat up water for use in making one of those beverages.