Compostable Coffee Pods, Commercial Coffee Processing & Environmental Impact

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks on the planet. One only has to look at their local town to see the plethora of cafes and coffee shops that are springing up on nearly every other street corner. In fact, coffee is the second most traded commodity on the planet with only oil beating it to first place. Naturally, an increased demand for consumption leads to an increased need for supply. This brings with it a series of environmental issues that many companies are becoming increasingly aware of. One solution to such issues that we’ll discuss is the introduction of compostable coffee pods as an alternative to their more wasteful counterparts.

Coffee growing & sustainability

The increased demand for coffee has led to higher production quotas. In the past, traditional coffee production involved a sustainable model. Coffee beans were grown under a shaded canopy of trees with minimal impact on the environment.

Modern production methods are far more aggressive as they are focused primarily on high crop outputs, no matter the ecological impact. Coffee is now mostly grown on plantations that rely on the heavy use of fertilising agents and other unsustainable farming practices.

The reduction of forest canopy eliminates the habitat of numerous species of animals and insects. This aggressive agricultural mono-culture reduces the chance of other flora and fauna thriving in the local environment.

Coffee carbon footprint

Its status as a cash crop means that extensive amounts of forestry in Central and South America have been cleared to make way for coffee plantations, removing these valuable carbon dumps.

Coffee is also an international product, available in every corner of the globe. Every bean transported worldwide has its effect on the world’s carbon footprint. The fact is that regardless of the strides made to make it greener, coffee, and even compostable coffee pods, will never be 100% carbon neutral. However this does not mean we should let things continue as they are.

Waste & Landfill

There is a lot of waste created through the growth and production of coffee. In the recent past these by-products would usually have just been thrown away. Nowadays in the wake of the green push across the planet, many companies are seeking to recycle and reuse their waste products.

A striking example of this is that coffee pulp can replace up to 20% of the commercial concentrates present in cattle feed at no change to the weight gain or nutritional value. This has

untold benefits for the coffee producing countries as their primary based economic activities can take advantage of their waste production as well as reduce their overall wastage. The majority of coffee grounds still end up in landfills, which is an unsustainable solution in the long run. Compostable coffee pods are unfortunately not the norm yet, so regular pods from coffee machines also end up here if they are unable to be recycled.

However there are alternatives and ways in which the effects on the environment can be reduced.

Plastic pod 'no mess' culture

A major concern has been the growth in popularity of coffee pods. These plastic pods are quick and easy to use. There appears to be little waste to the user beyond that of the pod itself. The convenience is that they have no used coffee grounds staining the counter or needing to be disposed of in the bin.

The Future - Compostable Coffee Pods

Coffee machines themselves are not the issue, it’s all the factors surrounding them and the effects that their needs inflict. It isn’t all doom and gloom, though some coffee fans might be fearing that in order to preserve the planet, they should give up their favourite drink.

There needs to be a push towards more sustainable coffee production and completely compostable coffee pods and products.

The solution has been staring us in the face. There is no need to change from using mugs or pods so coffee lovers need not fear. Instead they should be focusing on purchasing 100% compostable coffee pods. These break down far quicker than biodegradable ones and ultimately actually give the local environment a boost.

Recycling cups and pods allows us to reduce our waste production by a vast magnitude. Better still is the use of 100% compostable products that are beneficial to the environment.

This is a guest post written by David, from B2B Coffee.

B2B Coffee.ie is a commercial coffee machine company based in Ireland, aiming to reduce our carbon footprint and promote completely compostable coffee consumables – safe for the earth, safe for you. 

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