sanitary pad manufacturing business capsule making machine:Here’s why your old Nespresso pods are being turned into bikes, compost, artworks, and pens

sanitary pad manufacturing business capsule making machine:Here’s why your old Nespresso pods are being turned into bikes, compost, artworks, and pens

  It may be hard imagining a world without a Nespresso machine burbling away in your kitchen, but what happens to the pods you throw away? Instead of throwing them in the trash, Nespresso wants to encourage consumers to return their old pods in special bags. Recycling them gives a second life used to make new pods, bicycles, pens, artworks, and fertilizer. While the rate of recycling Nespresso does in South Africa is slightly greater than the global average, it could be a lot higher – which has brought about its own set of criticisms from people calling on the company to be more environmentally friendly. For more stories go to There can be no denying that a fresh cup of coffee has become much simpler since capsule machines have been around. For some popping in a pod has become a daily routine, while to others a special treat in a hotel room. 

  Regardless of where you find them, for many South Africans, until Nestlé-owned Nespresso showed up, we didn’t know just how easy it could be to get your hands on a barista-quality cup of coffee at the touch of a button. 

  Since 1986 Nespresso has been at the forefront of reshaping the way millions of people enjoy their coffee every day. It is believed some 14 billion Nespresso capsules are sold every year for the multi-billon dollar company, reports the Guardian. 

  While it is hard to imagine a world without their machines burbling away in our kitchens, concerns have been raised about the billions of capsules that end up in the trash each year. Especially since the pods are used only once and then discarded. 

  While South Africans should recognise that it is the consumer that chooses to throw old coffee pods away, the backlash Nespresso receives for their environmental footprint has been significant enough for them to change it. 

  Case in point: South Africa is where Nespresso has been recycling its old pods via couriers, Nespresso boutiques, and malls since 2014. 

  ”The potential aluminium offers beyond its ‘first life’ is perhaps poorly understood and we recognise the part we must play in addressing this,” says Yassir Corpataux, Nespresso Coffee Ambassador. 

  As part of Global Recycling Day, the company reached out to Business Insider South Africa to encourage more consumers to return their old pods in special bags and to “give used Nespresso capsules a second life. 

  ”We see collective recycling as the most viable long-term solution – a robust and sustainable solution that works for all,” says Corpataux.

  Nespresso wants to improve on its recycling rate, by which it collects and recycles pods. For Nespresso South Africa, that rate sat at 35%, 3% above the global rate of collection of 32% in 2021, according to Corpatux. A percentage that has been improving over the past few years, and a far cry from when it was just 25% back in 2017.    

  One way Nespresso has improved their recycling is by upcycling old pods through a waste collection and separation company called Oricol, Nespresso’s local recycling partner in South Africa, which collects and separates pods into aluminium (the coffee pod main material) and coffee grind, in Johannesburg. 

  First off, the use of aluminium is contentions. The reason Nespresso says it uses aluminium for their capsules is to keep your coffee fresh for longer. As a metal, aluminium is light, durable and has no limit to how many times it can be reprocessed. According to Nespresso, 75% of the aluminium ever produced is still in use today. 

  But, on the other side of the pod debate, environmentalists, like the WWF, argue that if billions of those pods end up in landfill it is moot. Should they land up in the trash they can take as long as 500 years to decompose. 

  Which is why many are pushing for the manufacture of compostable capsules, similar to ones made by local pod making company 4WKS coffee that take just three months to decompose. 

  Read more: This SA coffee company is saving the planet – one pod at a time 

  The argument is further exacerbated by the fact that Nestlé does not release any figures for how many of its aluminium capsules end up in landfill, are recycled, or are produced. 

  Their response remains a stock standard: “[We are] unable to share figures on this as this it allows for the calculation of sales, which are confidential.” 

  While the volumes of pods remain a mystery, Nepresso was willing to share some information about what they do with them when they end up at Oricol. 

  One of their top calling cards is making pods using recycled aluminium. 

  ”In 2015, we piloted a scheme using recycled Nespresso capsules to make new Nespresso capsules. However, to create a more practical and scalable solution, we have redesigned our capsules to use less material and accept a wider range of aluminium alloys – leading to the 2020 roll-out of the first ever coffee capsules made using 80% recycled aluminium [called the Vertuo ranges],” says Corpataux. 

  By the end of 2022, the company wants to take this a step further, aiming to have the full Original and Vertuo ranges of capsules made using 85% recycled aluminium. 

  What doesn’t go into making new pods, is smelted down to create products, part of what Nespresso calls their Second Life campaign.

  Corpataux says approximately 300 Nespresso capsules go into making each RE:CYCLE, a sleek, urban bicycle which retails for about R20,000 in Europe and is co-produced with recycling bicycle company Velosophy. 

  Another product, the Swiss-based Caran d’Ache 849 ballpoint pen is made from a minimum 25% of the pen’s aluminium body from recycled Nespresso capsules, says Corpataux. 

  But South African’s will most likely be more familiar with the Nespresso pods given to local artists to make sculptures. One of these is Godfrey Dambuleni who has been creating artwork pieces from used Nespresso capsules since 2016, including a golden seal made form 3,000 used pods.   

  Corpataux says Dambuleni can walk into any Nespresso store and request as many capsules as he needs. He also has created a network of people who instead of recycling in store will go and meet him at one of his markets and hand over their bag of used capsules directly to him. 

  As for the old coffee grounds? Oricol turns it into fertilizer. 

  ”Used coffee grounds make rich fertilizer. One of the most common applications for used coffee grounds is as a natural fertiliser. In farming, compost made from used coffee grounds is surprisingly versatile, offering numerous benefits such as improved soil drainage, water retention and aeration,” says Corpataux. 

  So, the next time you are sipping a freshly brewed coffee courtesy of a pod, spare a thought for where it ends up. 

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sanitary pad manufacturing business capsule making machine:Here’s why your old Nespresso pods are being turned into bikes, compost, artworks, and pens

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