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Successful coffee pod test points the way to taxpayer cost savings

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TORONTO, Canada — New City of Toronto test results prove that certified compostable coffee pods break down in the City’s main green bin food waste process. This opens the door to widespread acceptance of certified compostable coffee pods in green bin programs across the country and points to an effective, convenient and consumer-friendly solution to single serve coffee waste that can also cut costs for taxpayers.

Toronto and Canada are leading the world in providing revolutionary solutions to everyday waste problems in line with the principles of a circular economy.

The test was a first for the City of Toronto and Club Coffee (www.clubcoffee.ca), which produces the PurPod100™ compostable coffee pod (www.purpod100.com).

The goal was to see how much of the coffee and other compostable pod components would be broken up for processing in the Toronto’s key food waste facility. The pods performed well within the standard set by the City, not surprising since coffee is 85% to 90% of the content of a brewed pod.

“We are extremely pleased with this result,” said Club Coffee CEO John Pigott.

“Consumers can be confident that they can enjoy great coffee from certified 100% compostable single serve pods with the knowledge that the brewed pods can be successfully diverted from landfill and returned to the earth in the form of compost or biogas. The technical evidence is clear – governments and waste management firms should give consumers what they want and fully accept these pods in local green bin programs.”

Looking beyond the successful test, Toronto and other municipalities want coffee companies to move to a common single serve format. This would make it simpler for consumers to know what to do with used pods and cut rising local government waste management costs.

York University waste expert Dr. Calvin Lakhan has noted that recycling plastic coffee pods is expensive, with operational costs on managing them in Blue Box systems averaging $2500/tonne. Composting is estimated to have average operational fixed costs of just $150 per tonne.

According to Dr. Lakhan, “My review of international research tells me that compostable pods are the right direction on environmental and economic grounds. This test adds more evidence to support their inclusion in all food waste diversion programs.”

He also pointed out “Attempting to recycle coffee pods offers us the least environmental return based on money spent. It is 30 times more expensive to abate 1 tonne of carbon through coffee pod recycling, than through coffee pod composting.”

The success of the compostable coffee pod made with renewable, plant-based materials reflects growing consumer backlash against throwaway, single-use plastics with major brands switching to compostable pods to meet consumer demand.

“Our President’s Choice and no name brands have always delivered great tasting coffee in a convenient way, but we were uncomfortable with the environmental concern of plastic single-serve pods,” said Ian Gordon, SVP, Loblaw Brands Limited.  “This innovative solution solves a big environmental challenge for millions of Canadians. Toronto’s test results are a welcomed confirmation of the benefits of these pods.” Other well-known brands now selling the compostable pods to consumers across Canada include: McCafé, Muskoka Roastery, Melitta Canada, Jumping Bean and Ethical Bean.

Plastic coffee pods are already getting the same negative attention as plastic straws and water bottles. Recent bills in the Ontario and British Columbia legislatures have proposed bans on all non-compostable single serve plastic coffee pods. The Ontario government’s new Food and Organic Waste Framework also promotes compostable products and packaging. The Government of Canada has joined its G7 partners in acting to reduce single use plastics.

The trend to compostable innovations such as the coffee pod is being strengthened by well-established certification processes based on recognized standards. Club Coffee’s PurPod 100™ single serve coffee pods have passed extensive tests to achieve certification by the Biodegradable Products Institute. This has all led a wide range of coffee brands to switch to the certified compostable pods to meet consumer demand for better environmental performance.

The full report is available at https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/recycling-organics-garbage/working-toward-a-circular-economy/?accordion=unit-for-research-innovation-a-circular-economy

The analysis by Dr. Lakhan is available at https://wastewiki.info.yorku.ca/files/2018/09/Coffee-Pod-White-Paper.pdf

Information on BPI certification of compostable products is available at www.bpiworld.org