A recent study by Wageningen Food and Biobased Research, part of Wageningen University and Research, reveals that coffee capsules made with Ingeo PLA biopolymer from NatureWorks surpass aluminium, conventional plastics, and other compostable capsules in sustainability performance.
The comprehensive study evaluated single-use coffee capsules' environmental impact and circularity across various materials, including compostable biobased materials, aluminium, and conventional plastics. It considered multiple end-of-life scenarios such as industrial composting, recycling, incineration, and landfill, considering the fate of spent coffee grounds within the capsules.
The findings highlight that compostable capsules, specifically those made with Ingeo, outperform other options by keeping coffee grounds and capsule materials in the loop through organics recycling, making them the most sustainable choice. The study focused on global warming potential and Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) over 100 years in carbon dioxide equivalents.
Erwin Vink, Sustainability Director at NatureWorks, explained that the MCI integrates critical factors such as recycling rates, recycled content, recycling process yield, biobased content, reusability, and average product lifespan.
He emphasised that the MCI is a comprehensive tool for measuring material circularity.
Ingeo's composition from annually renewable, plant-based resources contributes to biobased compostable capsules' low global warming impact. Even when disposed of improperly, compostable capsules maintained strong sustainability metrics. Flavio Di Marcotullio, Strategic Marketing Manager at NatureWorks, said the study's conclusion demonstrates the overall life cycle sustainability of Ingeo compostable capsules, making them the most environmentally friendly option for single-use coffee capsules.
NatureWorks has collaborated with Flo SpA since 2018 to develop high-quality Ingeo PLA-based compostable coffee capsules. The partnership ensures rigorous testing for quality and compostability, delivering a sustainable option that simplifies consumer disposal by diverting both the packaging and spent coffee grounds away from landfills or incinerators to industrial composting. This process transforms them into valuable soil amendments, contributing to carbon sequestration and water retention.