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How Starbucks and Podback are reducing waste

How Starbucks and Podback are reducing waste
How Starbucks and Podback are reducing waste

Starbucks has partnered with Podback, a coffee pod recycling service. Customers using the famous coffee brand at home can now pick up a recycling bag, making it easier for customers to be more environmentally friendly. 

Packaging Gateway reports that once customers are done with their pods, they can be dropped off at one of Yodel’s 6,500 drop-off locations in the UK.

More about Podback

Podback collects and recycles aluminum and plastic coffee pods all over the UK. This helps to cut down waste and gives old materials new life. 

Here’s how it works. Workers shred the pods to remove the coffee, melt the aluminum shells, and wash and melt the plastic pods.

The melted aluminum is poured into a mold, while the plastic ones are formed into small pellets. 

Manufacturers around the UK receive the new materials afterward. They turn the plastics into new products like garden furniture or building materials. Companies repurpose the aluminum pods into car components and beverage cans.

Podback says, “Coffee grounds are sent for anaerobic digestion, a process that creates renewable energy (biogas) and soil improver.” The pods don’t need to travel far to become a new pod. Customers can leave it on their curbside or drop it off at the nearest point. 

Household Waste and Recycling Centres are provided with Podback containers to make it easier to separate the aluminum and plastic pods from the source. 

Here’s one of the best parts. Collection of the pods for recycling is free.  

UK government’s efforts

The government released an environmental improvement plan in January 2023 that targets residual municipal plastic waste. This aims to ensure that plastic waste does not exceed 42kg per capita yearly by January 2028.

This means that it has to reduce its plastic waste by nearly 45% compared to 2019. 

Coffee pod pollution statistics 

According to Green Match, emissions per cup of coffee amount between 200 and 644 grams of CO2. Globally, consumers generate an estimated nearly 580,000 metric tons of waste from coffee capsules.

Putting this in perspective, the number of coffee pods and capsules that end up on landfill sites can go around the earth 57 times if they are all placed next to each other, according to Green Match. 

These small plastics found in coffee pods, according to some estimates, can take up to 500 years to decompose in landfills.

Making recycling easier for customers

Proper recycling of package materials can lower waste disposal costs for the business and customers, which could help save money over time. Companies investing in making it easier for their customers to recycle the packaging benefit from a string of advantages, including boosting brand image. 

With a conscious mindset on protecting the environment, more customers are willing to partner with a brand that cares about sustainability

Here are five ways to make it easier for customers to recycle: 

  1. Offer recycling bags, like Podback.
  2. Set up drop-off points where customers can return recyclable packaging. 
  3. Educate customers on why it’s important by using clear labels and informational materials.
  4. Curbside collection makes it convenient for customers to recycle from home.
  5. Incentive recycling with discounts or rewards for customers. 

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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