As municipalities and consumers alike grapple with what to do with used coffee pods, one company has announced plans to take back its trash.
Nespresso is introducing a program to allow Canadian customers to recycle their coffee capsules for free by mail.
The company announced on Monday that recycling bags are now available with the purchase of the Nespresso capsules online, or at its boutiques. Customers can fill the red bag, then drop off the sealed package at any Canada Post outlet or mailbox.
The program is available to those in Atlantic Canada, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and in each of the territories. Residents of some B.C. and Quebec municipalities can put out their pods in green bags with the rest of their curbside recycling under a different program.
Caroline Duguay, communications director for Nespresso Canada, said the company has received a positive response so far.
“We’re bombarded by emails right now, and phone calls.” she told the Kelly Cutrara Show on Global News Radio 640 Toronto on Monday. “People are extremely excited.”
While single-use coffee pods — also made by brew machine manufacturer Keurig, among other companies — rose to prominence years ago for their convenience, they’ve gained a negative reputation among environmentally-conscious consumers.
One and a half billion pods end up in a landfill every year in Canada, according to Norm Miller, an Ontario legislator who put forth a private member’s bill seeking a ban on non-compostable pods last year.
The industry has taken notice of such criticism. Keurig, for example, has promised to make all of its pods recyclable in Canada by the end of this year and elsewhere by 2020. Various coffee brands are now offering compostable capsules as well.
Confusingly, though, it doesn’t really matter what it says on the label. Municipalities and waste diversion authorities set their own standards for what their recycling and compost programs will accept.
In Toronto, for example, single-use coffee pods cannot be recycled. Contamination of recycling streams with food and garbage already costs millions, and officials aren’t optimistic consumers will take the necessary step of removing the coffee grounds first.
Nespresso said its program doesn’t require the consumer to clean the pods first. The aluminum is recycled and the grounds are transformed into compost.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for consumers,” Duguay said.
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