Zero Waste 101: Single-Use Coffee Capsules

Friday, January 25, 2019

Zero Waste 101: Single-Use Coffee Capsules
Image Credit: Andrés Nieto Porras, CC BY-SA 2.0Link

The standard way of preparing brewed coffee at home is to use a simple coffee maker. However, in recent years, everything has changed when single-serve coffee machines (e.g. Nespresso and Dolce Gusto) are introduced to the world, to the delight of many coffee enthusiasts. These revolutionary coffee machines make it more convenient for coffee lovers to brew a perfect cup of coffee with a consistent flavor each time. Not to mention, there are no coffee pot and filters to clean up.

The heart of each single-serve coffee machine is a coffee capsule (also known as coffee pod). Coffee capsules are pre-packaged ground coffee beans that are encased in tiny plastic or aluminum containers. Since the capsules are thrown away after each use, they end up in landfill, thus contributing to the increasing global waste problem.

If you already owned a single-serve coffee machine (which I know is very expensive so it is not easy to give it up), here are some of the things you can do to minimize coffee capsule waste.

1. Submit Used Coffee Capsules to Recycling Facilities

If the brand of your single-serve coffee machine happens to have its own recycling program, then take the initiative to collect your used coffee capsules and send them to their corresponding recycling facilities. For instance, if you’re using a Nespresso machine, you can recycle their coffee capsules by putting them in a Nespresso recycling bag  (which you can get for free from their online shop), then either
  • Drop off the recycling bag at any Nespresso boutique
  • Pass the recycling bag to the Nespresso delivery man at your next order (this service is only available for Metro Manila customers).
2. Donate Used Coffee Capsules to Social Organizations for Upcycling

Ever heard of the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Look for social organizations in your area that accept used coffee capsules for their upcycling projects. One such organization is Negrense Volunteers for Change. Their local artisans utilize discarded Nespresso coffee capsules and transform them into beautiful pieces of home decors.

3. Use Your Creativity to Recycle Used Coffee Capsules

Coffee capsules might be tiny, but with enough creativity you can actually recycle them. Some of the amazing ideas I saw online are:

Storage bins for very small items (e.g. hair accessories, paper clips, jewelries).

Image Credit: Sew Many Ways

After plugging the hole at the bottom of the coffee capsules, they can be used as molds for making popsicles or gelatins.

Image Credit: Experiment Mom

Coffee capsules are just the perfect size for plant seed starters, not to mention, the hole at the bottom of the capsules provides drainage when watering the plants.

Image Credit: Fresh Eggs Daily

4. Reuse the Coffee Grounds

How about the leftover coffee grounds from the capsules? Is there a way to recycle them as well?

Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to reuse coffee grounds. In particular, dry coffee grounds are known for their deodorizing properties. You can put them overnight in any areas with foul smell, like the inside of your refrigerator or your shoes.

Moreover, coffee grounds can also be added to your compost bin, which can later be used as natural soil fertilizer.

Do you have other ways to recycle single-serve coffee capsules? Share them on the comment section below J

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