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New Study Confirms Compostable Bioplastic Coffee Capsules as Most Sustainable Option

New Study Confirms Compostable Bioplastic Coffee Capsules as Most Sustainable Option beverage packaging, Bio-based, Compostable Packaging, food and drink packaging, food and drink sustainable packaging Food and Beverage Business

Wageningen University & Research has recently published its ‘Sustainability Assessment of Coffee Capsules’ report, which carefully examined the environmental impact and circularity of compostable bioplastic, conventional plastic, and aluminum capsules.

The study used the Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) developed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to comprehensively evaluate circularity, taking into account recycling rates, recycled content, process yield, biobased content, reusability, and lifespan. In addition, various end-of-life scenarios were examined, including industrial composting, recycling, incineration with energy recovery, landfill with energy recovery, and mono-collection.

The report concludes that compostable plastic capsules, particularly those made of PLA and PHA, are the most sustainable option, with an MCI of 100% when the capsules are composted. These capsules are both biobased and biodegradable, allowing for the recycling of both the coffee grounds and capsule material into compost, even when disposed of incorrectly.

To tackle the composting challenge, the report recommends that “the national government initiates negotiations between the coffee industry, the waste management industry and material producers to define the conditions at which the compostable capsules can be accepted to be treated with separately collected municipal organic waste.”

Aluminum capsules rank as the second-best option, but face challenges in widespread participation in a mono-collection system, while conventional fossil-based plastics do not fit into a circular economy as neither the plastic capsules nor the spent coffee grounds are recycled.

Project lead Ingeborg Smeding expressed the importance of the study, stating that “even though coffee grounds contribute the most to greenhouse gas emissions when it comes to single serve coffee use, the material used in these capsules has a sizable impact nonetheless.”

For more information, please refer to the study

New Study Confirms Compostable Bioplastic Coffee Capsules as Most Sustainable Option beverage packaging, Bio-based, Compostable Packaging, food and drink packaging, food and drink sustainable packaging Food and Beverage Business

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