Coffee Pods? No Thanks Says Hamburg

29 February 2016

 

Coffee Pods?  No Thanks Says Hamburg

Coffee pods, those single serve, use-once, round, plastic containers for drip coffee are big business. Sales are growing and where just two years ago we get through a little over 10 billion of them in the U.S., the coffee pod has seen its popularity rise by another 50 per cent in the past year, and a similar rise is expected by 2016.

However, it is the massive boost in sales of the one-cup, single use pods which are taxing the environment. Fighting this waste has meant all government offices in the German city of Hamburg saying “nein” to coffee pods. That’s right, work for the civil service in Hamburg and you’ll not find a single coffee pod to help you stay awake during the morning accounts meeting or the sales revenue figures audit.

Coffee itself is not banned of course, but the pods – even if they were to be disposed of in the recycling bin – are off the menu for now in Hamburg and there are strong rumours that other German cities like Cologne, Berlin and Dusseldorf are watching closely and may be about to follow suit.

Even the guy who invented and initially marketed the coffee pod, John Sylvan, has said the pods are out of control and are like the ciggie butts of the coffee world (now that’s got to really hurt!) It’s a fact that if you lined up every coffee pod ever used next to one another, it would form a line that wraps around the planet nearly 11 times.

There is a terra-cycle firm in the U.S. which specialises in recycling the pods which deem to be difficult to recycle and it has ripped off the aluminium lids and managed to do little else with the remaining pod. So why has no firm managed to make a biodegradable pod? One team in Canada is working on it but for something to be biodegradable it must degrade naturally 100 per cent, otherwise it’s no good at all.

One firm, Nespresso sells around 28 billion of the coffee pods worldwide. Then you have government offices and firms around the globe who’ve invested in coffee pod machines for those needing a morning pick me up. Drip filter coffee has the worst impact on the environment, but on the other side of the coin, an instant coffee cup has the least impact. With the rise of the coffee shop and the demise of the local pub in the UK, it doesn't looks like this dilemma isn’t going away anytime soon.