Coffee pods and capsules are incredibly popular around the world. So popular that approximately 350,000 plastic coffee capsules end up in landfills every year.
We also know how important convenience is – it’s now a top priority for coffee consumers. But historically, convenience has come at the expense of environmental responsibility. In recent years, however, we’ve seen this change with the introduction of compostable coffee capsules, among other things.
Some consumers may feel that compostable coffee capsules are hard to find. But they’re becoming more and more popular across the US. For instance, at Metropolis, we offer a range of plant-based commercially compostable espresso capsules compatible with Nespresso original line machines.
But that doesn’t change the fact that there are plenty of questions for coffee consumers. Are all Nespresso pods compostable? And can you just throw them on your compost heap at home?
Read on to answer these questions and learn more about commercially compostable coffee capsules.
Recycling is the process of chemically or manually repurposing materials like glass or plastic into new products. Composting, meanwhile, is the process of leaving organic matter to decay until it becomes compost, which can be used for fertilizing and conditioning soil.
A material, whether paper, food waste, or otherwise, is only compostable if it can be entirely broken down into usable compost, made up of three main components:
Generally speaking, compostable matter requires very specific conditions to break down, including:
In many cases, you can do this at home. You can start by adding food scraps – including coffee grounds – and other home compostable materials to a compost bin or heap. Give it some time, and the process produces compost, which you can use in gardening!
But that’s not the case for all compostable products. Some products are commercially compostable – which means they require more stringent requirements to break down. These must be processed at a specialist industrial composting facility.
For example, Metropolis coffee capsules are commercially compostable and must therefore be disposed of at a commercial composting facility. Our espresso capsules are also certified by both the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) and the Composter Manufacturing Alliance (CMA). This means that they pass the strictest standards for composting in the US.
This isn’t a simple question – so let’s break it down.
For many years, most original line and Vertuo capsules sold by Nespresso were not compostable.
This is because most Nespresso-manufactured coffee capsules were made from an aluminum alloy. This has several benefits, as aluminum is lightweight, non-toxic, and durable. These capsules are also non-absorbent, meaning they don’t accumulate any coffee compounds on their surface. They also don't splinter.
Nestlé asserts that these aluminum shells can be “infinitely recycled” at dedicated facilities, and claims that each capsule is up to 80% recycled. Consumer uptake of Nespresso’s recycling program for these capsules is somewhere around 30%.
Despite these claims, these capsules also couldn’t be composted – even at commercial composting facilities. If you were to dispose of them in a compost heap, they would only start to partially decompose after at least 80 years. It would take centuries for them to break down entirely.
However, in November 2022, Nespresso announced it would be rolling out “paper-based home compostable capsules” in France and Switzerland from spring 2023. The aim, they said, was to launch them in other countries in Europe within a further 12 months.
So – to answer the question about Nespresso-manufactured capsules: it is extremely unlikely that you’d find any compostable Nespresso capsules in the US.
Fortunately, however, those aren’t the only compostable options.
In 2012, Nespresso’s various patents related to coffee capsule design expired. As a result, thousands of brands sell Nespresso original line compatible coffee capsules around the world. What’s more, some of these are commercially compostable – like plant-based commercially compostable coffee capsules we sell at Metropolis Coffee.
So, for a revised answer: it’s very unlikely that you’ll find Nespresso-manufactured original line capsules that are compostable in the US. But compostable Nespresso-compatible capsules are much easier to find!
So – now we’ve answered that question, let’s look at what we offer for Metropolis customers.
We use cutting-edge technology to prepare plant-based sustainable commercially compostable coffee capsules. We also source our capsule shells from Smile Beverage Werks LLC, a company dedicated to reducing the single-use plastic waste generated by coffee pods.
Because these capsule shells are plant-based sustainable, Metropolis espresso capsules can be disposed of at any commercial composting facility across the US.
So, while countless plastic and aluminum coffee capsules end up going to landfill each year, our commercially compostable coffee capsules can be turned into valuable compost.
There’s no catch – we don't have to compromise on quality or freshness to achieve this. Our espresso capsules have a shelf life of 12 to 24 months. We use our state-of-the-art Italian capsule filling machine to precisely fill and seal each capsule. They’re then flushed with nitrogen to maximize freshness.
As well as selling our range of capsules wholesale, we also offer private label and co-packing services. With private-label coffee capsules, we work with your team to design a signature blend before packing it according to your brand and specifications.
Our co-packing service, meanwhile, is when we take a roasted coffee you’ve already prepared and then handle all the grinding, filling, sealing, and flushing for you – leaving you with perfectly-manufactured coffee capsules.
Interested in learning more? Check out our wholesale co-packing and private-label espresso capsule solutions today.
Metropolis espresso capsules are made under license from Smile Beverage Werks, P.B.C.
Metropolis Coffee is not affiliated with, endorsed, or sponsored by Nespresso. Nespresso is a registered trademark of Société des Produits Nestlé.