Sustainable Industry

Nespresso invests in recycling used coffee capsules

Nespresso developed a reverse logistics program, in addition to creating a range of capsules made from recycled aluminum

Brazil is the second biggest coffee consumer in the world. From November 2020 to October 2021, 21.5 million bags of 60-kilo bags were consumed, a 1.7% increase compared to the previous period, according to the Brazilian Coffee Industry Association (ABIC). In the past, coffee was available only in powder form, and today capsule-based coffee has been growing continuously in Brazil and in the world.

The increasing demand prompts one to think about the sustainability of this new way of drinking our everyday coffee. With this in mind, Nespresso – a first-mover in this sector – implemented a capsule recycling program in Brazil in 2011.

The Nespresso brand is a property of Nestlé Nespresso S.A. And an operating unit of the Nestlé Group, and it recycles 17% of the capsules consumed in Brazil. The target is to reach 30% by the end of 2022, and 50% by 2025. For this to happen, more than 200 collection points have been set up, in addition to the use of reverse logistics and the possibility of sending capsules via the Post Office.

Aluminum recycling – The capsules collected are shipped to the Recycling Center located in Osasco, São Paulo, where they undergo a mechanical process to separate the coffee grounds from the aluminum. No water is involved in the process. The aluminum goes to the steel industry and is fed back into its life cycle in various forms, such as pens, electrical supplies and even frame pieces.

Recycled aluminum requires 95% less energy to produce than virgin aluminum, in addition to contributing to a significant reduction in carbon emissions into the atmosphere. By the end of 2022, all capsules from the Original range are expected to have 80% recycled aluminum in their production, and for the Vertuo range this goes up to 85%.

The coffee grounds, on the other hand, go to Nespresso Hortas. The organic waste is used as an alternative form of fertilizer to grow organic food regeneratively, in addition to providing specialized technical advice to farmers in Parelheiros, in the South End of São Paulo.

“Recycling is part of our commitments to support the transition to a circular economy. In addition to contributing to the responsible management of materials and waste, the circular economy helps to reduce the carbon footprint, and we intend to reach net-zero at Nespresso by the end of this year,” said Cecília Seravalli, sustainability manager at Nespresso in Brazil.