Drinking coffee is not just a habit for Italians, but a real passion. If however, up until recently, the mocha was still the favorite choice as far as domestic consumption is concerned, these days modern espresso machines using pods or capsules have made their way into many homes. According to IRi data, in 2018 Italians purchased over 6.5 million kilos ( 14.3 million pounds) of coffee in capsules: an increase of 14,7% on the previous year. In contrast to pods, though, which can be disposed of as organic waste, capsules can represent a serious problem for the environment. This is precisely why more and more companies are focusing on alternative and more ecologically-friendly products: so let’s see what the features of compostable capsules are and the advantages they offer compared to the traditional variety.
Why are coffee capsules a pollutant?
Traditional coffee capsules are very harmful to the planet: it actually takes more than 500 years for them to biodegrade. This is because they are made up of different materials, which should be separated by the consumer and disposed of appropriately: the aluminum and the plastic in the specially designated dumpsters, and the coffee grounds in the organic waste collection. Separating the plastic part from the aluminum part and the coffee grounds though, is not easy, thus in most cases the capsules end up in the undifferentiated waste collection. Now, however there are many alternatives to the traditional capsules, since heightened sensitivity to environmental issues has driven a growing number of companies to develop solutions with a lower environmental impact.
The New Generation of coffee capsules
There are now many different types of of new generation coffee capsules, developed with an ecological perspective: these are not just products that can be easily disposed of, without incurring the problems associated with traditional capsules, but they also have greener production methods. Let’s look at the alternatives:
- refillable capsules that can be re-filled with coffee powder; and even the container can easily be disposed of;
- recyclable capsules where the components can be disposed of appropriately by the production companies, thanks to a material recovery program. The coffee grounds are used as fertilizers, while the aluminum is recycled and destined for use in the production of new objects;
- biodegradable capsules which can be thrown directly into the organic waste; most of these are made using
- bioplastic made of vegetable based materials and much more sustainable than traditional materials, not only in terms of disposal but also in terms of production;
- compostable capsules, created from materials that in the space of a few months, become compost which can be used as fertilizer on the land;
Compostable capsules: why choose them?
As we have seen, there are solutions which make a home-made espresso more eco-friendly: in exactly the same way as organic coffee, for many consumers it is important to have the possibility to choose a product which respects the environment and the people involved in the supply chain. Filicori Zecchini, who have always been sensitive to this topic – as evidenced by the proposal of a Fairtrade certified blend, called Armonia – has chosen the innovation of Terracaps® for its compostable capsules. Sustainable and safe, the Filicori Zecchini capsules guarantee the consumer a high level of safety: indeed they are approved for use in contact with food and have granted the possibility to use the Vegetable Genuine Parchment™ trademark. These are the main features.
The Terracaps® capsules are made of innovative bioplastic, Terrablend®, and are completely compostable and biodegradable: they can be thrown directly into the organic waste and decompose at least 90% within 6 months.
They don’t contain aluminum
Cheap, sustainable and environmentally friendly
The production process for these capsules has been optimized to reduce environmental impact as much as possible. The production and filling of the capsules takes place in the same location: this also allows transport costs to be cut and emissions to be reduced. Any additives used in the production process are completely biodegradable.
Furthermore, the capsules are produced using only wind, solar or biogas energy. Terrablend® bioplastic is highly resistant to oxygen and guarantees a shelf life (the period of time a foodstuff may be stored and maintain its qualitative and safety characteristics unaltered) of 12 months for the coffee.