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The market for coffee capsules is growing all around the world. An ever growing number of people are choosing to buy coffee pod machines so they can make themselves a fresh cup of coffee whenever they want one. Hollywood actor George Clooney is also a fan and has been advertising Nespresso coffee capsules for years now with his “What else?” slogan. He is, therefore, promoting a brand that unites premium coffee with high standards of sustainability.
Nespresso is considered to be the pioneer of the coffee pod sector. The company, a division of the Nestlé Group, launched these popular coffee capsules onto the market 30 years ago. Soon after, it began setting up a global recycling scheme for the used pods. Collection and recycling systems were created wherever its customers were unable to return their used pods via established national collection schemes. As is the case in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, where Nespresso has established an exemplary recycling system with REMONDIS’ support.
A variety of options are available to customers wishing to return their used pods to provide them with a convenient service as well as to ensure the pods are collected separately: they can drop them off at the Nespresso Boutiques, arrange to have them collected from their home when they place a new order or take them to special collection points. REMONDIS’ subsidiary, Dusseldorp, is responsible for organising the collection and transport of this material stream in the Benelux countries. The company picks the capsules up once a week – both from the Dutch Boutiques as well as from the central collection points across the whole of the Benelux region where the couriers leave the returned capsules that they have collected from the customers’ homes.
REMONDIS-Dusseldorp then transports the capsules to the Dutch town of Lichtenvoorde where it operates a recycling facility that is able to separate the pods’ aluminium from the coffee grounds on a grand scale. This highly effective and successful plant was set up especially for this purpose. One of the reasons for the plant’s great success is the actual design of Nespresso’s capsules. Unlike its competitors’ products, the whole of the Nespresso pod – whether it be the lid or the capsule itself – is made of aluminium which makes it ideal for recycling. As the purity levels of the separated aluminium are so high, it can be compacted or melted down and then sent straight to aluminium-processing businesses – further treatment is not necessary.
The company’s goal is to be recycling absolutely all of its used coffee pods by 2020
The spent coffee grounds can also be recycled. These are fed through a digester with a downstream composting facility that is operated by ARN, a company based in Nijmegen. ARN, in which REMONDIS owns a share, can use this material in three different ways: to generate biogas, to produce compost and to make CO2 fertiliser. For the fertiliser, the carbon dioxide, generated by the treatment process, is discharged as a liquid and used for growing plants under glass.
The coffee grounds can also be recycled. They can be transformed into energy and fertiliser.
Nespresso has been collaborating with the REMONDIS Group’s companies in the Netherlands since 2009. Over the years, this cooperation work has steadily been expanded. Mark Ruijgrok, country business manager, explained: “We have made concrete and tangible advances right from the beginning. These, in turn, have helped to make Nespresso even more sustainable. And sustainability is an integral feature of our company philosophy – both in the Benelux countries as well as in all other countries around the world.”
Nespresso currently recycles a good 80 percent of its used coffee capsules worldwide. As far as these coffee specialists are concerned, this is an important milestone but there is still room for improvement. The Swiss company has raised the bar that little bit further with its sustainability strategy, “The Positive Cup”: they wish to offer their customers the world’s best and most sustainable cup of coffee. Its goal here is to be recycling 100 percent of their used coffee pods by 2020. This target has already been achieved in the Benelux countries and in neighbouring Germany – together with REMONDIS. “What else?” as George Clooney would say.