Nestlé and JDE set up the first UK-wide coffee pod recycling scheme

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Nestlé, which owns Nespresso and Nescafé Dolce Gusto, and JDE, which manufactures Tassimo, have launched the first UK-wide recycling scheme for coffee pods.

The UK’s three largest coffee pod brands are collaborating to set up the UK industry’s first nationwide recycling scheme, according to a Guardian report.

While coffee pods have increasingly become more sustainable, consumer confusion around the recycling system has led to many going to landfill, where they can take up to 500 years to break down. Nestlé, the manufacturer of Nespresso and Nescafé Dolce Gusto, and Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) UK, which owns Tassimo, are launching the UK’s first system to make it easier to recycle coffee pods in multiple ways.

Among those is the kerbside collection for pods (alongside other household recycling) provided by local councils, which the brands are working on. There are also 6,500 Yodel drop-off points, and most strikingly, consumers will also be able to hand off used coffee pods when their online shopping is being delivered by supermarkets.

Read our story on Nespresso goal to make its coffee carbon-neutral by 2025.

This national pod recycling scheme is run by a new non-profit organisation called Podback, and aims to replace a complex network of multiple recycling systems. Nestlé is expected to phase out its current recycling scheme, under which only one-third of coffee pods are recycled. The Guardian report added that a TerraCycle system for Tassimo and L’OR pods will also become redundant. The brands are urging rival companies to back the initiative.

Recycling pods in standard plants can get difficult, owing to the mix of materials like plastic, foil and aluminium, as well as coffee dredges. Research conducted by the founding brands shows confusion among consumers, with 35% of people unaware that coffee pods can be recycled, and nine in 10 wishing to recycle their pods through their household recycling.

The first expected local authority partners are Exeter city council, Cheltenham borough council and South Derbyshire district council, with the companies in advanced talks with others.

Toby Bevans, the marketing director of JDE UK and Ireland and director of Podback, told the Guardian: “We are proud to be a co-founder of Podback, working to ensure that every pod enjoyed is easily recycled. With Nestlé, we are calling on the entire industry to put commercial rivalries aside and collaborate, working together with other brands and retailers to make it as easy as possible for consumers to recycle their pods.”

Anay Mridul
Anay Mridul
Anay is journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.