EUBP supports mandatory compostable coffee capsules

April 18, 2023

The European Bioplastics (EUBP) announced it is backing plans by the European Commission to make coffee capsules mandatorily compostable.

The EUBP is also urging the EU Parliament and Council to uphold its proposal and ensure its effectiveness. EUBP’s Managing Director Hasso von Pogrell stated that while the organisation regrets only a limited number of packaging applications have been suggested for mandatory compostability, they wholeheartedly support the Commission’s decision to include coffee capsules in the listing of products that must be certified compostable before being placed on the EU market.

He further explained that coffee makes up approximately 80% of a coffee capsule by weight and, capturing the capsules’ main component through organic recycling, ensures the greatest value retention from the used application, which is in line with the fundamentals of circularity. Compost containing coffee grounds has several benefits when used as a soil amendment. In any other end-of-life option, the valuable organic material is simply lost.

The European Commission’s Impact Assessment concludes that compostable coffee capsules are a preferred option from a Life-Cycle Assessment point of view. Compostable coffee capsules significantly increase the capture of biowaste, reduce the contamination of compost with non-compostable plastics, and do not lead to increased contamination of other waste streams.

If all single-serve units on the market are compostable in industrial composting facilities, consumers can be sure where to dispose their capsules after use. Organic recycling operators have the peace of mind that whatever single-serve unit enters their facilities is safe and can biodegrade like the rest of the input material and does not leave persistent microplastics.

Furthermore, separate collection of biowaste will be mandatory in the EU by 2024. This means that there is no need for a dedicated infrastructure build-up for collection, sorting, and organic recycling of certified compostable coffee capsules. However, this is not the case for other forms of coffee capsules on the market, for which recycling schemes exist in very few countries.

The EUBP strongly believes that organic recycling is the most environmentally sound end-of-life option for single-serve coffee units and calls on the Parliament and Council to keep coffee capsules on the proposed positive list for mandatorily compostable packaging applications as set out in the Commission’s proposal for revised packaging rules.

In conclusion, the EUBP’s support for mandatorily compostable coffee capsules is commendable, and their call for the Parliament and Council to uphold the proposal is vital. As coffee capsules continue to grow in popularity, it is crucial to ensure that the packaging is sustainable, and organic recycling is the most environmentally friendly way to achieve this goal.

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