Nespresso Is Finally Debuting Compostable Coffee Pods

Of all the ways to make coffee, inserting a single-serve pod into the plastic chamber and pressing a button is probably considered the newest unless you count the AeroPress. Unlike your standard espresso machine — which requires a certain level of expertise, not to mention a steep price tag that falls outside many offices and household budgets — coffee-pod contraptions present a more affordable alternative with a much lower barrier to entry. Keurig has become particularly synonymous with office culture, mainly for its price. In fact, The Commons says that the machine was specifically intended for office use when it debuted in 1998. 

But Keurig wasn't the first pod machine on the market. It was preceded by Nespresso, a Nestlé brand that launched in 1986, per Perfect Daily Grind. With a slightly higher price point and a marketing bent that bills it as a luxury item for home brewing, the Nespresso is Keurig's slightly fancier cousin. As efficient as both machines are in delivering fresh, speedy cups of coffee, however, they've both faced criticism for their use of non-biodegradable pods. Perfect Daily Grind says Nespresso manufactures roughly 14 billion pods a year, which adds up to a whole lot of waste. Finally, after three years of R&D, Nespresso is ready to unveil an environmentally friendly, compostable pod. 

Paper-based capsules are coming in 2023

In a November 21 statement on its website, Nespresso announced that its "breakthrough paper-based home compostable capsule" is built to be compatible with all Nespresso machines. After three years of R&D, the capsule will be ready to pilot in France and Switzerland in the spring of 2023. "We're more committed than ever to widening the sustainable choices we offer our consumers," says Nespresso CEO Guillaume Le Cunff. He adds that the paper capsule will complement Nespresso's aluminum capsules "that are both recyclable and made using 80% recycled aluminum."

In order to maintain Nespresso's signature taste, the new pods are made from a "high-precision paper pulp forming process with a biodegradable layer," which protects against oxidation to help keep the coffee fresh inside, says Head of Global R&D Julia Lauricella. After its initial debut in France and Switzerland, Nespresso says the new capsule will head to other European countries "within a year." Hopefully, U.S. retailers will be next on the list.