Posted in Kafevend Blog

Last week, we had a look at the rise of the coffee pod. Whilst it's certainly useful when it comes to saving time, its meteoric rise in popularity has generated an awful lot of waste over the years. John Sylvan, the inventor of the K cup, which has become prolific in North America, has expressed his regret for not designing a more easily recyclable pod. Thankfully, there are other folk who have set their mind to solving this problem, and we're going to take a look at them and their solutions today.

The first item we'll consider has been developed by Lavazza in collaboration with the Italian company Novamont, who specialise in biopolymers. Polymers are groups of molecules that form building blocks for all sorts of things like proteins or DNA. Alongside these organic polymers, you can also get synthetic versions which can be used to create objects like plastic. Lavazza and Novamont have designed a new coffee pod which uses a biopolymer that will fit in Lavazza's existing pod machines, but thanks to the new material, will be biodegradable. This is good news for the enviroment and is set to be launched soon. We can only hope more companies will design their own recyclable coffee pods.

Interestingly, it is possible to create biopolymers using sugar beet. As you may or may not remember, a few weeks ago during Fair trade fortnight, we talked about how the EU is looking to lift restrictions on the amount of sugar beet European farmers can grow. Whilst a great opportunity for these farmers, it isn't so good for sugar cane farmers elsewhere in the world who rely on it for their livelihood. Perhaps some of this extra sugar beet could be directed towards creating recyclable pods in Europe, meaning European farmers benefit from growing more sugar beet, and sugarcane farmers will still retain the gap in the market for their produce.

The next item is a prototype compared to Lavazza's pod, but it is also looking to address the issue of waste from drinking coffee. 'Reduce. Reuse. Grow.' from California have designed a plantable paper coffee cup that is impregnated with seeds. The idea is that once you have finished your morning cup of joe, you can plant the cup, or pass it on by putting it in a special bin so that you can let someone with greener fingers take care of it. R.R.G. recently successfully kickstarted the prototype with plans to roll it out across California. The state has suffered from a large number of wildfires in recent years and R.R.G. hope that their idea can help to start replacing the trees that were lost, alongside reducing the environmental impact of waste plastic cups.

It's good to see folks figuring out ways of making business more environmentally friendly, and hopefully we shall see more companies following suit in the near future.

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