The truth about your coffee pods 13

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Coffee pods have been labeled environmentally unsustainable, so what does their popularity say about our values? Are Australians turning a blind eye to the environment, for the sake of a morning coffee?

Australians consume a staggering 3 million coffee pods every day! George Clooney glamorises them, whilst companies like Nespresso and Lavazza make billions from our caffeine addictions.

According to environmentalist John Dee though, there’s a darker side to our coffee craze. “In some ways the coffee pods are the new bottled water. It has a huge impact environmentally”.

“The cost of the product is way above what previously existed”, the creator of both National Recycling Week and Planet Ark added.

Indeed, even the inventor of coffee pods regrets ever making them. “No matter what (coffee companies) say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable”, inventor John Sylvan admitted.

“The plastic is a specialised plastic made of four different layers”, Mr Sylvan added. “I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it”.

For experts John Rice and Nigel Martin, “pods are emblematic of a wider problem in our society, where we often say one thing and generally do another”.

“Many of us like to speak about being ‘green’ or living sustainably, even while sipping from a cup of coffee produced by an industry that is about as sustainable as an ageing Soviet nuclear power plant”, the business experts observed.

Despite this, Australia’s love affair with coffee shows no signs of stopping. In fact, consumer group Choice reported that 28 million kilos of aluminium could now be sitting in landfill thanks to coffee pods.

“Pods, in their own humble way, tell us much about the future intersection of environmentalism and consumerism”, John Rice and Nigel Martin argue.

“Western consumers are generally supportive of the environment – so long as they don’t have to do anything about it”. Somethings got to change, that’s for sure. Will it be your morning coffee?

Do you use coffee pods? Are you worried about their impact on the environment? Do you think Australians do enough recycling?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. i refill my coffee pods and reuse them so no impact on the environment

    1 REPLY
    • How do you reuse the pods? I have an Aldi Coffee machine, and have not seen anything in the shop to sue to reseal the pods after cleaning and filling with ground coffee.

  2. Nespresso pod’s are recyclable….you return them to the company. Free shipping!

    2 REPLY
    • Yes, so do we. We can recycle the pods here in Wellington to Nespresso.

    • I did not know that Nespresso pods are recyclable and can be returned to the company!!!!

  3. Capsule machines are expensive operate and generate an incredible amount of waste.
    Senseo by Phillips and ESE type machines have the same ease but use only a biodegradable pad.
    At home and hotels, I use a decent grinder and a simple plunger for better taste, economy and least environmental impact.
    But I still love a good coffee from a skilled barista.

  4. Sheer idiocy to buy these machines and pay the absolutely ridiculous prices for the pods! We buy a kilo of coffee beans at Aldi for $11, grind them ourselves and use them in a plunger, to make delicious coffee – to OUR tastes! We get about a hundred cups of coffee from those beans – how many cups would the $11 pay for in pods?

    1 REPLY
  5. We use a Nespresso. I do buy some pods but mainly refill some excellent stainless steel pods I bought. As they don’t take much coffee I find I need strong beans which I grind with a hand grinder. Get to choose my coffee and the only disposal is a very small sticker lid.

    3 REPLY
    • Hello Chris
      Could you tell me where you get the stainless steel pods and stickers.

    • Where can we buy the refillable stainless steel pods?

    • Where can you buy those stainless steel pods from ,I live in Sydney N SW

  6. We have a Nespresso machine and love the coffee it produces. WE have had coffee plungers and I have to say we do prefer the Nespresso coffee. I have to differ with those who claim the Nespresso pods are not recyclable – I recycle ours and we seem to go through quite a few even though there are only two of us!

    To recycle, we collect the used pods and about once a week, I recycle – here’s how: Get a small bucket or other similar container that will hold about 3 – 4 litres of water. Add the water to the container. Then take each pod and use a pointed knife to open the perforated foil disc on the face of the pod. Then submerge the open pod in the water and swish about until the coffee grounds are flushed out. The now empty pod goes into recycling along with other aluminium waste and the coffee grounds (in the water) go into the composter. (Coffee grounds are good for your garden!!) Zero waste and it doesn’t take much time to do.

    The cost argument is a different story I have to admit – but we enjoy the coffee and the convenience.

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