September 01, 2023

How do you compost coffee capsules?

There are a countless number of options on the market for any consumer looking to buy coffee capsules. However, up until recently, most of them have been made from aluminum or single-use plastic.

In response to changing consumer demands and a drive to lessen the environmental impact of the coffee industry, more sustainable alternatives are appearing – including compostable coffee capsules.

However, many people still have questions about the process of composting a coffee capsule. For others, the difference between home compostable and commercially compostable coffee capsules might not be clear enough.

Want to learn more? Carry on reading.

A commercial composting facility.

What is composting?

Composting is the process of turning organic waste into various non-toxic organic components, including:

  • Water 
  • Biomass (i.e. matter from dead plants and animals)
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)

Under the right conditions (i.e. temperature and humidity), aerobic microorganisms consume oxygen, water, and other components of organic waste to create compost. This is a mixture of decayed organic matter used for fertilizing and conditioning land.

You can compost a whole range of products, from food waste to spent coffee grounds. The same is true of coffee capsules. However, we must draw an important distinction between home and commercial composting.

At home, consumers usually dispose of home compostable materials – like food scraps and garden refuse – in a small container or bin. These setups can vary significantly, but they all facilitate microbial activity and decomposition of organic waste into compost.

On the other hand, some products are commercially compostable. This means that they require more stringent conditions to break down – the kind of conditions created at a commercial composting facility.

Home composting vs. commercial composting

Allyson Trice is the Marketing Manager at Smile Beverage Werks LLC, a company committed to reducing the single-use plastic waste created by coffee capsules.

“Commercially compostable means [the product] is taken to an industrial facility for composting,” she explains. “These facilities are mostly automated and conditions like temperature are controlled and consistent. 

“This is different from home composting where the temperature and other conditions can vary a lot, and it might take longer for the materials to turn into compost."

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the US only composts about 5% of the food waste from retail, foodservice, and home use. As a result, much of this food waste ends up in landfills, where it produces methane: a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Many businesses, governments, and consumers now see commercial composting as a key way to combat this issue. 

So – how do you compost coffee capsules? 

  • You must dispose of commercially compostable compostable capsules at a certified industrial composting facility.
  • You can, however, add certified home compostable coffee capsules to your garden compost heap.
The life cycle of commercially compostable coffee capsules.

What does “certified compostable” mean?

A product – such as commercially compostable coffee capsules – is considered commercially compostable if a commercial composting facility can convert it into compost within a specific period of time.

Demand for industrial composting has grown since the 1980s, purely because it's an effective way to manage both residential and commercial waste streams.

For example, Metropolis Coffee espresso capsules (made from plant-based sustainable material) are certified commercially compostable.

Our certified compostable coffee capsules are certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), North America's leading authority on compostable products and packaging. Alongside this, they also meet the requirements set by the Composter Manufacturing Alliance (CMA). The CMA determines whether a product is suitable as “feedstock” for industrial composting facilities in the US.

Ultimately, this means that Metropolis Coffee capsules pass the strictest standards for composting in the US.

It’s also important to note that the words “certified compostable” can only apply to products that meet specific American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for compostability, including the ASTM D6400 criteria. These include:

  • Biodegradation: The material must turn into compost through microbial action at the same rate as paper (roughly 12 weeks).
  • Disintegration: The material must disintegrate into small pieces.
  • Eco-toxicity: Seeds must be able to germinate in the resulting compost.
  • Heavy metals: The compost must be safe to use on land.
Metropolis Coffee compostable coffee capsules on a shelf.

Metropolis Coffee commercially compostable coffee capsules

Allyson explains that commercially compostable items are an ideal substitute for single-use plastic items. In fact, states across the US are increasingly banning this type of product. 

Some authorities, including those in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, and Vermont, have imposed outright bans on single-use plastic products like bags, straws and disposable coffee cups. 

“Most single-use plastic bans are related to petroleum-based products. Our capsules are made from plant-based cellulose,” Allyson says. 

This is why we source commercially compostable coffee capsule shells directly from Smile Beverage Werks LLC. Once you use them, you can dispose of them at any industrial composting facility in the US.

If you’re looking for an alternative to single-use coffee capsules, our espresso capsules are a fantastic option, as they don’t compromise on quality, freshness, or flavor. They also have a shelf life of 12 to 24 months. 

At our factory, we use our state-of-the-art Italian capsule-filling machine to precisely dose each individual capsule. We then flush them with nitrogen to maximize freshness, before sealing them to lock in all the flavor.

Explore our range

Our current range of wholesale commercially compostable coffee capsules includes:

We also offer private label and co-packing services. With private label coffee capsules, we collaborate with your team to design a signature espresso coffee blend to your specifications, before handling all the packing, sealing, and shipping.

With co-packing, meanwhile, we take the coffee you’ve already roasted, and grind it, before dosing, flushing, and sealing each capsule. We then send them to you – complete with your branding.

Interested in learning more? Check out our wholesale co-packing and private-label espresso capsule solutions today.

Certified compostable facilities may not exist in your area. To find a composter near you, visit or on all packaging and marketing materials.

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.

Metropolis Coffee

Interested in wholesale espresso capsules? Click here for more information.