We’ve been having the sustainability conversation for some time now, with many companies making it a key part of their operations, especially if they hope to attract the business of the massively growing number of eco-conscious millennials.
For Nespresso — which produces the single-serving coffee pods that have become ubiquitous — though, the issue is more pertinent given that the product itself is inherently waste-generating. It’s an industry leader for responsible and sustainable coffee sourcing. Part of Nespresso’s efforts include training farmers, paying fair wages, and more recently, reviving coffee-growing in South Sudan — one of the countries the drink is said to have originated from.
The aluminium capsules though, are a little trickier. The company’s already working with mining company Rio Tinto to responsibly-source aluminium. But while aluminium recycling is a closed-loop process (nothing is added to recycle it, making it infinitely recyclable without deterioration of the material), the responsibility of taking the pods to be recycled falls on the consumer.
For now, Nespresso’s global recycling rate is about 27.7%. Used capsules are melted down, and made into parts for Victorinox Swiss army knives, Caran d’Ache pens, and more pod casings.
In Singapore, the company’s One Pod At A Time sustainability campaign in its fourth year running. Consumers can conveniently give their used pods up for recycling during the delivery of their new capsules, or bring them to any of the Nespresso recycling points. While the metal is collected, the spent grounds are put to use too.
This year, the company is working with another local farm (last year featured Quan Fa Organic Farm), Sky Greens, a low-carbon urban vertical farm that has won awards for their innovative hydraulically and gravitationally-powered vertical farming system. Coffee grounds from recycled capsules — in addition to animal and plant waste — are used to produce compost for the Sky Greens, which produces leafy staples like cai xin and bok choy.
Jack Ng, Chief Executive Officer at Sky Greens shares, “We are excited to continue to deliver innovative solutions to urban agriculture in land-scarce Singapore. This partnership with Nespresso to reuse recycled coffee grounds into our compost mix not only ensures minimal wastage of food resources…”
Find out more about Nespresso’s sustainability efforts here.