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Nespresso gets friendly with environment

Responsible drinking takes a new meaning for coffee.   

To satiate their thirst for gourmet brew, consumers are increasingly turning to domestic espresso and coffee makers to re-create that perfect cup of joe at home. According to global market researcher Euromonitor, sales of coffee in capsule form have grown over three times to US$10.8 billion (S$14.4 billion) from 2009 to 2014.

But, while they are convenient, coffee pods have also been singled out for negative environmental impact. As most are made of aluminium, they are usually non-biodegradable and can take centuries to decompose. Unfortunately, the material is still the best available to maintain the freshness of coffee grounds.

To mitigate this issue, Nespresso has taken steps to reuse its coffee capsules. Consumers can drop off used pods at Nespresso boutiques at Ion Orchard or Takashimaya department store, or have them picked up when making an order online.

Says Matthieu Pougin, the 39-year-old Singapore-based country manager of Nespresso Singapore who has been with the popular single-serve coffee maker for 15 years: “Consumer participation is essential in the recycling effort, which is why we have invested heavily in making it as easy as possible for Nespresso customers to return their used capsules.”

The coffee maker also works closely with hotels like Swissotel Singapore and Royal Plaza on Scotts to have used in-room capsules picked up by a courier when new batches are delivered. The aluminium from capsules is then shipped to smelting plants overseas and turned into items like window frames, while coffee grounds are used as compost in local farms such as Quan Fa Organic Farm.

Nespresso has also pledged to invest $660 million over the next five years to further commit the brand to 100 per cent sustainably sourced coffee and responsibly managed aluminium by 2020.

Understanding the changing mindsets of consumers is key. “People today don’t just want to drink coffee,” Pougin says. “They also want to feel good about what they are drinking. Ultimately, the core of Nespresso is not the machine or the coffee; it’s about providing that green conscience too.”