Make recycling the name of the game
COFFEE makes the world go round, apparently, but coffee pods litter the ground, creating an unbalanced compromise.
On Earth Day (April 22), Nespresso showcased its sustainability commitments at Robinsons Magnolia, showcasing a stand showcasing artwork made from old Nespresso coffee pods, as well as apps more practical.
As part of a partnership with Nespresso, young emerging artists from For the Future PH were commissioned to create original works of art incorporating materials such as aluminum and coffee grounds from used Nespresso capsules. All proceeds go to support the organization’s ongoing reforestation efforts with the Yangil tribe in Zambales, one of the areas affected by the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991. Another partnership has been formed with the Artisans Project of Hope from the Negrense Volunteers for Change Foundation (CNV) which provides livelihoods to vulnerable people and feeds undernourished children. Volunteers train people with limited incomes to create art from discarded materials like eggshells, leftover tiles and Nespresso capsules. Much of the shredded aluminum from the pods is recycled into mosaic-style decorative art. All proceeds from artwork sold are used to support NVC’s feeding program for children in need.
Most of these efforts may seem small, but Millet Valdez, sales and marketing manager of Nespresso distributor in the Philippines, Novateur Coffee Concepts, Inc., pointed to a large aluminum ingot, the size of three adult arms. , in the cabin. This ingot was made with the aluminum pods of Nespresso capsules, melted down by Katipunan Metal Corp., and delivered to be used to become automotive parts and kitchen utensils, among other applications. “We deliver tons and tons,” Ms. Valdez said, and the majority of ex-pods go to industrial applications like these.
Customers are encouraged to deliver their used coffee pods to Nespresso stores (at Rockwell, Podium and Robinsons Magnolia). These are also collected during e-commerce transactions. Customers are incentivized to do so: for example, receiving a gift after donating three packets of used capsules. “Just to make it more exciting and just to keep it in mind,” Ms. Valdez said of the prompts.
The remaining pomace is then separated from the capsules and used as organic compost. “It improves the quality of the soil,” Ms. Valdez said, as coffee grounds are high in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Land is sent to local organic farms like Nutriganics Farm in Cavite, Saret Organic Farmville in Bulacan and Palaya Farm in Rizal.
Ms Valdez pointed to items made with old coffee pods in industrial applications: a Swiss army knife from Victorinox and a pen from Caran d’Ache, proving that Switzerland-based Nespresso is making sustainability a global effort.
According to her, in markets closer to the manufacturers of Nespresso, coffee pods are once again transformed into coffee pods. “We are really required to have a recycling program in place to operate. It’s really part of their DNA,” said Ms. Valdez, speaking of operations in the Philippines, although not directly managed by Nespresso in Switzerland.
The secret is in the material: “Aluminum is fully and infinitely recyclable,” she said.
Almost all Nespresso coffee capsules are made from 80% infinitely recyclable aluminium, which requires less energy to produce than raw materials. “The reason they use aluminum for their capsules in the first place – in addition to being a material that effectively protects the coffee — is the fact that it is recyclable — unlike plastic. Nespresso has been using new packaging for its machines since March 2020, which uses 95% recycled materials.
To ensure proper overall management of Nespresso’s waste in the country, the company has partnered with Geocycle Philippines and Envirocycle. The first is part of the LafargeHolcim Group’s global waste management business, which envisions a zero-waste future by actively developing and promoting innovative, customized and safe environmental waste management solutions. Meanwhile, the latter is a full-service e-waste recycling company that aims to prevent potentially polluting electronic equipment from being disposed of in landfills. Instead, these should be reused or recycled through fully licensed and accredited channels. These would include business waste like paper and electronics.
“The goal is to be truly 100% sustainable,” Ms. Valdez said. “This should not only cover our products, but also our internal processes as an organization.” — JL Garcia