Single-serve coffee systems are convenient and simple to use. Their main drawback is the packaging waste they leave behind, composed of a mix of materials. But recycling is possible. Thanks to a recycling programme created by TASSIMO and TerraCycle, 50 tonnes of waste or 3 million pods and packages have been diverted from incineration.

”The recycling programme developed by TerraCycle and TASSIMO since 2010 has so far collected three million TASSIMO pods and packages for materials recycling. This means that about 50 tonnes of waste have been diverted from incineration. This landmark has been reached thanks to the collectors in our programme. Besides the environmental advantage, more than 300 000 SEK have been donated to charity”, says Felicia Mendahl Ingelman, Communications Manager at TerraCycle Sweden.

Convenience – at a cost

tass1Brewing a cup of really good coffee or an espresso with the proper balance between intensity and creaminess requires attention and knowledge. The market for single-serve coffee systems has grown, perhaps because of the additional demand for convenience and reliability posed by everyday life. Many single-serve systems offer capsules for other beverages beside coffee, and can brew a variety of hot drinks.

”Whether it is an invigorating espresso, a restorative herbal tea, or a creamy hot chocolate, each cup is brewed to perfection thanks to the TASSIMO Intellibrew™ technology. The machine automatically scans a bar code on the top of the capsule and adapts the system settings for water amount, brewing time and temperature accordingly”, says Emelie Levall, Brand Manager at TASSIMO Sweden.

There is a downside to convenience, though. Single-serve systems create substantial amounts of packaging waste. Most of the capsules end up in incineration facilities, because of a lack of recycling infrastructure able to handle the mixed materials.

Recycling made easy for consumers

”The good thing is that the waste is perfectly recyclable. A couple of years ago, TASSIMO partnered with TerraCycle; we are a global recycling company, and our vision is “Eliminating The Idea of Waste”. We have developed recycling solutions since 2001, for all kinds of waste: from pens, chip bags and cigarette butts, to single-serve capsules. In 2010 we launched a recycling programme together with TASSIMO to collect their packaging waste. The TASSIMO programme is now in place all across Sweden, and there are both private and public collection sites where consumers can drop their pods and packages”, Felicia Mendahl Ingelman says.

Felicia Mendahl Ingelman och Sofia Eriksson på TerraCycle Sverige visar en insamlingsbox för TASSIMO-kapslar och foliepaket.

Felicia Mendahl Ingelman and Sofia Eriksson, TerraCycle Sweden, demonstrate a TASSIMO waste collection bin.

”We are an innovative recycling company, specializing in the waste otherwise seen as non-recyclable. We reuse, “up-cycle” and recycle waste instead of letting it end up in landfills and incinerators. You could say that TerraCycle circularizes linear systems. A part of our business model is to develop programmes which are free for consumers. The programmes are sponsored by brands, manufacturers and retailers all over the world; green companies should offer smart waste solutions for their products and packages. Consumers are motivated by the opportunity to contribute to a better environment, and by a system of charity points. The points are converted into funds, which are donated to non-profit organizations. Many people in Sweden are committed to the concept; collecting three million capsules is a fine effort, and now we are taking aim for the next million”, Felicia says.

”The ongoing, six year partnership with TerraCycle to collect and recycle packaging waste is one part of our commitment to sustainability. We are very proud of the programme, and we clearly see the dedication of consumers that participate by returning their TASSIMO waste”, Emelie Levall says.

The article was published in September 2016.