Nespresso Capsule Coffees

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As someone who drinks coffee all the time, I decided to try Nespresso capsule coffees while I was looking for a new coffee to consume. It has created a question mark in my mind about whether it is environmentally friendly or not due to its capsule structure. Since capsule coffees, which allow us to easily access fresh coffee at any time, are usually disposable. When we look at the affordability of it, one capsule that contains 5 gr of coffee costs around $0.70 could be considered a little bit expensive. While capsule coffee consumption is increasing today, let's examine Nespresso capsule coffees’ life cycle until they reach store shelves.

What it's made of:


Colombia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Kenya and India are the regions where coffee beans grow, and the coffee beans ripened here are harvested by Nespresso farmers. This means that many natural areas are affected by coffee production. Sometimes these farmers use a machine set to a low temperature and indirect heat to dry coffee cherries. Also, they use machines for harvesting in large and flat areas. I would expect Nespresso to provide more detailed information about the machine usage rate and the environmental impact of these machines on these regions. When we look at the packaging process the reasons for using aluminium for coffee capsules are that it has the best protection against factors such as oxygen, moisture and light that affect the taste of coffee. In general, aluminium is extracted extremely energy-intensive from ore bauxite, and 90% of these ores are located in tropical areas. This situation also causes a reduction in tropical regions. To obtain aluminium electrical energy is required, and it causes carbon dioxide emission. These details are not given by Nespresso. This is unacceptable. Also, toxic red mud is formed as a waste material, which primarily consists of sodium hydroxide and heavy metals. Deposit or discharge of these materials in lakes affects the ecosystem badly. They offer one hundred percent and endless recycling in this regard. They note that aluminium requires up to 95% less energy to produce primary metals and achieve greater recycling, and aluminium retains its natural properties no matter how many times it is recycled. Nespresso stated that their capsules can be recycled into drink cans, bicycles, computers, the coloured side panels of their machines and new capsules. I can hear you asking how this recycling process is provided. In this regard, Nespresso, which is developing a recycling centres project in regions such as the United States, Singapore and Hong Kong, offers its customers the option of dropping the capsules they use in Australia into a Nespresso Australia Recycling bag, shipping them or dropping them off at the post office. They note that they have enabled more than three million people in France to leave their used aluminium packaging in recycling bins. In Argentina, coffees produced during the recycling of capsules are composted and used to grow organic vegetables by Pecohue, a recreation centre for young adults with learning difficulties. I did not find the information I have encountered in this section convincing, I would like the number of recycled products to be presented in a clearer data network according to the capsule consumption rate so that we can make sure that the aluminium used is 100% recyclable in practice.

How it's made:


First of all, the jungle is cleared to create areas for cultivation, and the soil is exposed to erosion. After the cultivation process, Nespresso farmers choose their coffee beans, and they send them to the community water mill in Colombia, which is managed through a cooperative. It is checked whether the coffee beans that have passed the control of the members of the cooperative are ripe. Here, farmers are paid according to the percentage of red beans they bring which evokes equality in terms of efficiency. Next, the outer layer of coffee beans is processed on the machine, and the compote is decanted for use among farmers. The natural gum remaining in the core, that is, the sticky liquid is left in tanks for 12-24 hours. In this way, less water is used for the core, which is cleaned more easily from this liquid, and the coffee beans are dried in the sun. The mill processes the wastewater generated from the processing of the cores. Therefore, it prevents water pollution. Stating that 4.2 million liters of water are saved per year, Nespresso acts sustainably in this respect, but in this industry where 21.000 liters of water are used for 1 kg of coffee, this is data that may be questioned in terms of its adequacy. Also, in response to a customer's question on Facebook, they said that they encourage their farmers to use organic matter whenever possible, but when it is impractical, they work with the Rainforest Alliance through the AAA Program to provide training to farmers on the proper use of nutrients and fertilizers. That seems a little bit unacceptable. They should be sure about their farmers’ working principles and attitudes. In addition to these, how the coffee is shipped, roasted, packaged and transported to the customers is not given in detail. I would like to see more transparency in this sense.

Who makes it:


Nespresso, the company of the Nestlé group, has a section dedicated to their sustainability efforts on their website. In this section, they provide examples of programs that collect waste for the recycling of coffee capsules and coffee pulp, while not providing information about how this recycling process works. For example, as a consumer and researcher, I would like them to clearly state by what means the waste collected from the recycling centers is transported to the factories and how the waste is processed there. More transparency is needed in this sense. If we look at the recycling process of aluminium in general, aluminium separated from metal parts is melted by liquefaction after passing through the washing stage. After that, it is possible to reshape aluminium and put aluminium into production. Since it will take 80 to 100 years for aluminium to dissolve in the natural environment or break down organically, it is extremely important to know the proportion of products that can be recycled. In 2003, together with the Rainforest Alliance, they established the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality Program, which they said was a collaboration between coffee farmers and the environment to produce exceptional coffee to protect the environment. They note that today they supply 80% of your coffee from the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality Program, and more than 40% of your coffee comes from farms that are Rainforest Alliance certified. I would like to underline that such a large networked Nestlé company should not be content with this ratio. They must clearly state their goals, take action by making promises.