British plastics manufacturer serves up compostable coffee pods

BIOME BIOPLASTICS, one of the UK’s leading developers of natural plastics, has helped to develop a biodegradable coffee pod, offering one of the first sustainable packaging alternatives in the single-serve market.


The global coffee capsule market is worth $6.6bn and is considered to be a rare bright spot in the global food and drink industry. There are now around 50 different coffee pod or capsule systems on the market, but their convenience comes at a price.


An estimated 9.1 billion single-serve coffee and drink cartridges wind up in US landfills every year, amounting to some 19 million cubic feet of waste. Coffee-pod machines are also increasingly popular in Britain with usage up by 45.1% between February 2012 and 2013, equating to around 186m capsules.


Unfortunately, single serve coffee pods are not easily recyclable. Mixed material pods are sent to landfill and those brands that do offer a recycling service have few recycling points and limited collection service. With mounting pressure around the environmental impact of their success, the coffee industry urgently needs more sustainable packaging options.


In response to this challenge, Biome Bioplastics has developed a portfolio of compostable materials for coffee pods based on renewable, natural resources including plant starches and tree by-products. These bioplastics will degrade to prescribed international standards in composting environments.


“Single–serve coffee pods are an excellent example of the fundamental role that packaging plays in delivering quality and convenience in the food service sector”, explains Biome Bioplastics CEO Paul Mines. “The challenge is to reduce environmental impact through packaging optimisation without impacting on food quality or safety, or inconveniencing the customer. Bioplastics are an important part of the solution”.


Based on the success of the biodegradable pods, Biome Bioplastics is working with manufacturing and brand partners to develop a number of natural polymer-based solutions for the hot drinks industry, with further announcements expected in the coming months.