Podback, a new cross-industry programme to recycle coffee pods, will launch in early 2021 with Nestlé and Jacobs Douwe Egberts UK.
Podback, a not-for-profit organisation, is the UK’s first cross-industry collaboration of its kind within the coffee sector, providing several easy ways for UK consumers to recycle their coffee pods.
The scheme will initially cover brands including Nespresso, Nescafé Dolce Gusto and Tassimo – representing the majority of the UK market – with an ambition to expand the programme to include all coffee brands that use plastic or aluminium pods in the UK.
The move comes as new research reveals confusion amongst consumers, with 35% of coffee pod drinkers unaware that pods can be recycled, and 90% stating that they’d like to be able to recycle their coffee pods through their usual household recycling.
Collected at kerbside
In a pioneering effort to make recycling easier for consumers, coffee pods will be collected alongside regular household waste and recycling at kerbside for the first time, as part of the Podback scheme. This has not previously been possible within the UK’s waste infrastructure.
Exeter City Council, Cheltenham Borough Council and South Derbyshire District Council are in advanced discussions with Podback to become the first confirmed partners, meaning that from launch, over 330,000 residents living in these areas will be able to have their pods collected alongside their household waste and recycling. It is hoped other local authorities will be confirmed at launch too, with ambitious plans to eventually expand across the UK.
Consumers will also be able to take their used coffee pods to any of the 6,500 Collect+ drop off points in local stores across the UK and there are ongoing discussions with retailers to facilitate a ‘handover at home’ option, meaning that consumers can have their used coffee pods collected for recycling when they have their groceries delivered. While this is unlikely to be ready for launch, Podback partners are working hard to make this a reality as soon as possible.
Fully recycled in the UK
The collected pods will be taken to re-processors in the UK to separate the packaging from the used coffee grounds. The plastic and aluminium pods will be processed separately to produce plastic pellets and aluminium ingots.
The plastic pellets will be used by manufacturers to produce high grade plastic items, like garden furniture, while the aluminium ingots can create beverage cans, car spare parts and other everyday objects. The coffee grounds will go through anaerobic digestion, producing both soil improver and biogas.
James Piper, CEO of Ecosurety, commented “We are thrilled to have helped enable this unique, cross-industry collaboration come to fruition. It is pleasing to see major brands readily engage and collaborate with a voluntary recycling scheme for coffee pods. Being able to utilise that commitment and drive to realise kerbside collections for consumers is really a huge achievement. We look forward to helping Podback reach its full potential in the near future.”
Councillor Chris Coleman, Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment, Cheltenham Borough Council, said “We’re pleased to be working with Podback, as one of the scheme’s first local authority partners, to offer our residents a simple way to recycle their coffee pods from their homes, particularly now many of us are doing more home working. Recycling is one of the easiest steps we can all take to protect the environment, and we’re looking forward to bringing this scheme to our residents early next year.”
Richard Howatson, Business Unit Manager, Nescafé Dolce Gusto and Starbucks at Home: said “There is power in collaboration and we know that by joining forces we can have even greater influence over the recycling rate of pods. Over the months ahead, we’ll be working closely with local authorities and other partners to make this a reality through Podback – meaning coffee drinkers will have a simple and effective way to recycle their pods, whichever brand they choose.”
To find out more about the Podback scheme, please visit www.podback.org
Marketing projects specialist
Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.