In 2015, Australians consumed 3 million coffee capsules per day (Doyle, 2015). More recent data would suggest this number has significantly increased.
Regardless of how or where you buy capsules, these modern-day coffee containers increasingly contribute to the mountain of plastic that’s ending up in landfills. Coffee capsules are usually made from a combination of plastics and aluminium, and it can take over 150 years for these pods to break down in landfill, which is bad news for those wishing to live sustainably.
For reference, in the USA, Keurig sold 10.5 billion! single use K-Cups (like capsules) in 2015 (Brown, 2019)
It is predicted that capsule-based single cup coffee maker systems will dominate the market in the near future (Gretler, 2018)
“Coffee pods are one of the best examples of unnecessary single-use plastics that are polluting our planet” – John Hocevar, Greenpeace USA (Brown, 2019)
The KEY problem with recycling tiny coffee capsules stems from traceability. Capsules are often too small to detect in some recycling plant sorting systems.
“K-cups bog down the entire waste management system (at many sites in USA) – John Hocevar, Greenpeace USA (Brown, 2019)
Ultimately, a minuscule number of coffee capsules (metal or plastic) are actually recycled.
Anything we can do to divert used capsules from landfill will make a significant difference.