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Nespresso unveils home-compostable, paper-based coffee capsules

With concerns of waste and recyclability swirling around uber popular Nespresso pods and coffee, Nestlé’ has announced it will pilot home-compostable coffee capsules on the Nespresso Original system in France and Switzerland next year.

The launch in European spring 2023 will precede further launches in several other European countries within a year.

The capsules are compostable, recyclable and made using paper and 80% recycled aluminium – and are touted as a breakthrough in packaging technology after three years of R&D. They do not compromise the brand’s premium coffee experience or taste.

Meanwhile, Nespresso’s “coffee masters” have created four new blends, including an organic coffee sourced through the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality Program, specifically crafted to act in “perfect harmony” with the new capsules.

Nespresso points to a French Environment and Energy Management Agency Consumer survey from 2020, which found that demand for compostable packaging is increasing, with an estimated 45% of French people now home composting one or more types of biowaste.

According to Innova Market Insights, compostable packaging is regarded by French consumers as the fourth most environmentally-sustainable packaging type (11%), behind recyclable packaging (28%), reusable packaging (25%) and packaging made from recycled materials (13%).

The new coffee capsules – developed in partnership with packaging giant Huhtamaki – are also recyclable and made using 80% recycled aluminum.

Proprietary technology

“Pushing the boundaries of fine coffee experiences is part of the Nespresso innovation, and since becoming a B Corp earlier this year, we’re more committed than ever to widening the sustainable choices we offer our consumers,” says Guillaume Le Cunff, Nespresso’s CEO.

Julia Lauricella, head of global R&D Center for Systems and Coffee Machines, adds: “Our 40 years of experience in coffee systems allowed us, together with the Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences, to develop a home-compostable paper-based capsule. It is retro-compatible with the Nespresso Original machines, and meets and exceeds the high expectations consumers have of Nespresso in terms of protecting the coffee’s aromas and taste.

“We combined a high-precision, paper pulp-forming process with a biodegradable layer for protection against oxidation to preserve our coffee in transport, storage and during the high-pressure extraction in our machines.”

Circular strides

The new paper-based capsules were developed as an alternative for consumers who prefer and have access to a compost, adding to the environmentally-conscious choices already offered through Nespresso’s aluminum capsules. Aluminum is widely acknowledged as an infinitely recyclable material.

Today, Nespresso offers over 100,000 aluminum capsule recycling collection points in 70 countries, providing convenient access to almost 90% of its customers. Nespresso claims to provide capsule recycling collection points to around 90% of its customers worldwide.

The product is certified for both home and industrial composting by TÜV Austria, an international certification body. In some countries, including France, where Nespresso is piloting this range, these capsules are accepted in the public biowaste bin.

“Part of this breakthrough innovation is the result of combining paper pulp from wood fibre, a natural renewable material, compressing it to a coffee capsule using our high precision technology,” explains Charles Héaulmé, Huhtamaki’s CEO.

In related development, Nescafé Dolce Gusto recently rolled out a new hot beverage machine concept pegged as a “coffee shop at home”. The system’s proprietary technology and home-compostable pods were dubbed the brand’s “most sustainable system to date.”


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