Coffee Capsules Reconsidered

‘It hurts to know that we create so much waste.’ Composite: The Guardian/Getty Images/NASA

We have been clearly on one side of this, but now thanks to Cecilia Nowell and the Guardian we acknowledge a possible reason to reconsider:

Are coffee pods really eco-friendly? The truth behind the surprising findings

Coffee capsules notoriously produce waste – but some experts maintain that reducing how much coffee you use, even with a pod, can decrease emissions

If you drink one of the 2bn cups of coffee consumed each day worldwide, you may have seen headlines last month celebrating the coffee pod, a single-serving container – typically made of plastic or aluminum – that can be inserted into a machine to brew a cup of coffee.

New analysis found that coffee pods may be more environmentally friendly than filter coffee, making headlines in the Washington Post and the BBC. But could it really be true? Some experts and coffee enthusiasts questioned how good for the planet pods actually are, especially given the waste that coffee capsules notoriously produce. But some scholars maintain that – even though it’s important to consider how capsules are disposed of – most greenhouse gas emissions happen while coffee is being grown. So reducing how much coffee you use, even if that takes using a coffee pod, can decrease the emissions of your coffee habit.

“It hurts to know that we create so much waste,” Luciano Rodrigues , one of the researchers behind the new study and a doctoral student in environmental sciences at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi, said in an email. But even if there were no coffee capsules in the world tomorrow, abandoning them “would make no contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions”.

The original analysis

Last month, a team of researchers at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi published an analysis looking at the greenhouse gas emissions associated with making a cup of coffee four different ways: with a French press, instant coffee, filter or single-serving capsule. What they found surprised many readers. In certain cases, a traditional filter coffee machine can produce 1.5 times as many emissions as a coffee pod, despite the aluminum or plastic waste users are left to toss in the trash…

Read the whole article here.



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