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Have you found yourself wondering how to dispose of used coffee capsules? We’ve covered the do’s and don’ts of recycling used coffee pods in this guide, as well as why biodegradable coffee capsules are an environmentally friendly way option for enjoying delicious coffee with just the push of a button.

Kaffekapsler

Photo by Karsten Seiferlin

Metal container or domestic waste?

Sorting coffee capsules can be a bit of a challenge, especially when big brands such as Nespresso® produce capsules which contain both coffee grounds and aluminium. Where do you put these used coffee pods? In the metal container, or in residual waste?

Unfortunately, we can’t give you a simple answer, since the protocol for recycling used coffee capsules differs per country, region, and even municipality. Some municipalities want used capsules in the domestic waste bin, while others want them disposed of in the metal bin. And then we haven’t even covered how to recycle plastic coffee capsules yet…

If you live in Copenhagen, we recommend the checking the municipality’s waste service when you’re unsure how to sort and dispose of your waste. In Copenhagen, used coffee capsules must be disposed of in household waste, but the way in which coffee capsules are sorted varies from municipality to municipality. So if you live elsewhere in the country, you’ll need to check your local authority’s sorting guide.

Some coffee capsule manufacturers, such as Nespresso®, offer the possibility to return their used coffee capsules for recycling at the shop or their distributors. Unfortunately, not everyone lives near their usual coffee capsule supplier. And, if one is to be a little critical here, this may also be shifting some of the responsibility to the consumer rather than providing a sustainable solution.

Coffee capsules: environmentally friendly or not?

Unfortunately, even when you’re taking the effort to sort your aluminium and plastic capsules or handing them in for recycling at a local shop, most coffee capsules still aren’t an environmentally conscious choice. Both plastic and aluminium capsules are energy-intensive to produce and are made from materials that require many resources to break down. Therefore, they can’t truly be considered environmentally friendly no matter how you dispose of them.

In fact, the growing popularity of coffee capsules poses a direct threat to the environment. After a slow start, the wheels are now in motion and the coffee capsule market is growing and growing. Today, more than 400 Nespresso capsules are consumed every second worldwide. Nespresso® itself claims that around 30% of its used capsules are recycled. But, according to some experts, this figure is probably closer to five percent.

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ØNSK kaffekapsler - bionedbrydeligg kapsler -ØNSK kaffe - espresso

Quick facts about coffee capsules:

  • 59 billion coffee capsules were produced in 2018 alone
  • The environmental impact of coffee capsules is being accounted for in cities like Hamburg, where coffee capsules are banned in all of the city’s public offices
  • According to the Danish Consumer Council, it is difficult to say whether plastic or aluminium capsules are the worse for the environmentSource: NewsTalk, Berlingske and Forbrugerrådet Tænk

Biodegradable coffee capsules as an eco-friendly alternative

After uncovering the unfortunate truth behind the coffee capsule industry, let’s get to some good news. You can still enjoy capsule coffee with a clean conscience through choosing capsules made of plant-based materials instead of their aluminium or plastic counterparts. These biodegradable coffee capsules are environmentally friendly in terms of how they are produced and how they can be recycled. They consist of organic material that is carbon neutral, they can be composted, and they require less energy and resources to be produced. 

Despite the fact that many biodegradable capsules are compostable, if you live in Denmark you should generally not throw them in the green bio-waste bin. ØNSK has consulted the Danish Waste Association, who state that compostable capsules should be sorted as household waste instead.

Just because you sort your biodegradable coffee capsules as household waste doesn’t mean that they are not environmentally friendly, says the Danish Waste Association. Your biodegradable coffee capsules will be sorted at the biogas plant and ultimately they will be used for producing environmentally friendly, carbon-neutral fuel that is used for district heating and electricity.

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bionedbrydelige kaffekapsler fra oensk

ØNSK’s coffee capsules are biodegradable, making them a more environmentally friendly choice.

Biodegradable coffee capsules from ØNSK

Now that you’ve got an idea of how to dispose of your coffee capsules and which capsules are the most sustainable option, let’s talk about where ØNSK coffee capsules fit into the picture. Our biodegradable coffee capsules are designed to be both eco-friendly and efficient so that they can fit any Nespresso® machine. And, if we may say so ourselves, they taste pretty excellent, too.

While some coffee manufacturers claim that they use aluminum or plastic capsules in order to preserve the taste of the coffee (their argument is that the organic capsules are not airtight enough to properly seal in the coffee), we’ve found a manufacturer who has developed an organic, biodegradable material that can keep the coffee inside capsules free from oxygen exposure. The result: coffee capsules that impact your tastebuds, not the planet.

Our biodegradable capsules are ‘Cradle to Cradle’ certified, meaning they are produced with respect to circular economy and recycling principles. The capsules are sold in packaging that is FSC certified, meaning that it is not made from more paper than the forest can reproduce. ØNSK capsules are also compostable, and they are produced using wind, water and solar energy.

The coffee inside of our capsules is 100% organic coffee, sourced directly from small farmers in the Central American mountains of Nicaragua. The coffee is imported and roasted locally in Copenhagen so that you can enjoy the taste of freshly roasted coffee from each capsule that you brew. You can find our selection of lungo and espresso capsules below. You can also get our coffee capsules as a subscription here.

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