Industry innovators collaborate to tackle compostable coffee pods in hospitality sector

Article posted on 19.09.2021

Industry innovators collaborate to tackle compostable coffee pods in hospitality sector

Here at Tidy Planet, we’ve teamed up with AstraZeneca, Sodexo, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, and Halo Coffee, to close the loop for one of the hospitality sector’s trickiest, and most abundant, waste streams – coffee pods.

It’s estimated that approximately 60 billion of these capsules are manufactured annually – three quarters of which end up in landfill, and can take up to 500 years to fully break down.

We see this as a massive challenge for not only the hospitality sector but society and businesses as a whole. That’s why we’ve collaborated with some of the most innovative minds in the industry to help address the problem.

You may remember that we recently shared the news that AstraZeneca and Sodexo invested in an A900 Rocket Composter – to process the 24 tonnes of annual food and green waste generated on the firm’s 100-acre manufacturing site. And it was back in 2019 when Raymond Blanc’s Michelin-starred luxury hotel and restaurant installed an A1200 to help it compost 94% of its annual food waste.

Well, these are the two sites involved in this latest project – a compostable coffee pod trial.

How the project came to life…

Last month, Halo – the creator of the world’s first pulp-based Nespresso-compatible coffee pods – provided AstraZeneca and Le Manoir with coffee machines and a batch of their pulp-based capsules, in a bid to help further strengthen their already sustainability-driven credentials.

Halo’s strapline, ‘the world’s best coffees in a way that’s best for the world’, sums up the heart and soul of the project – helping to reduce waste and keep our planet healthy.

This means that as well as composting their organic wastage on the premises, both locations are now able to divert another material from being landfilled.

Regarding the process, the pods are combined with the food waste and fed into the Rocket Composter – affectionately named, Gino D’Compo, by AstraZeneca – to be converted into a valuable compost resource, for use in the sites’ flower beds and cultivation plots.

The pods themselves are made from waste sugar cane fibre and paper pulp – instead of aluminium or plastic – and all the packaging they come in is fully compostable. Even the black ink on the box is also produced using vegetable waste.

Compostable coffee pods - Tidy Planet - Rocket Composter

What does compostable packaging really mean?

The truth is, there’s lots of greenwashing in the media about what can and can’t be composted – not to mention the countless terms such as recyclable, biodegradable, bioplastic, and compostable, which cause confusion. And it’s part of ours and Halo’s mission to break down these barriers and provide people with one clear version of the truth.

Halo cites, “In order for a product to be compostable, it has to meet a specific EU standard (EN 13432). This includes various requirements, one of which is that after 12 weeks at least 90% of the product should have disintegrated enough to fit through a 2mm sieve.

“Conditions required for most compostable capsules to break down requires ‘industrial composting’. Your council or waste company needs to be using the correct equipment and run the process for 12 weeks for the capsules to break down as described.”

And when speaking to some of these waste management facilities, Halo found that, “the time period they ran each composting process was as little as half the required time for industrial compostable capsules to break down, meaning the leftovers are often going to landfill with everything else that does not compost.”

In reality, much of the country’s ‘compostable packaging’ ends up being landfilled, as the UK doesn’t have the segregation system and processing infrastructure to deal with it – and this is where the flaws are.

Here at Tidy Planet, we believe that on-site industrial composting is a key piece to helping solve the puzzle – not only giving organisations autonomy over their waste materials, but reducing off-site disposal costs, transportation, and carbon emissions too.

We’re incredibly proud to be a part of this movement to help the world’s businesses sustainably manage their waste coffee pods – generating valuable nutrients for their soils – and we can’t wait to see more organisations close the waste management loop.

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