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Image / Editorial

Love Your Coffee Machine? A German City Has Banned Coffee Capsules


by Jeanne Sutton
25th Feb 2016

BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 07: A detailed view of atmosphere is seen in the Nespresso area during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Spring/Summer 2016 at Brandenburg Gate on July 7, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Clemens Bilan/Getty Images for Nespresso)

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For many modern office workers, the shared coffee machine is a sanity dispenser. You pop the pod in. You wait. You focus on the chugging machine. You get caffeine. You enjoy a brief moment of reprieve from life.

However, there is one downside to those beautiful shiny coffee capsules which deliver you from the drudge – they’re utter villains when it comes to damaging the environment. In fact, one city in Germany, Hamburg, has gone so far as to ban the pods, alongside disposable packaging.

The reason such capsules are causing the earth a headache is because they are incredibly difficult?to recycle. Coffee pods are usually composed of aluminium and plastic. Separately, they can be disposed of responsibly. Bonded together, not so much.

Hamburg is making headlines for its decision, upsetting companies like Nespresso who have seen their corporate star ascend rapidly in recent years. The pods will be banned from council buildings and the ruling falls in line with local government’s efforts to reduce waste. Council money will no longer be spent on products with “certain polluting products or product components”. Bottled water is a no-no, as well as plastic plates and cutlery. Won’t someone please think of the birthday parties?! (We’re joking, saving our planet is obviously more important than Sharon in HR picking at a dry cake someone picked up in the local grocery shop at lunchtime.)

A spokesman for the Hamburg Department of the Environment and Energy, Jan Dube, told the BBC that the capsules are particularly irking because “It’s 6g of coffee in 3g of packaging.? It didn’t make financial sense either to spend money on a product which was one-third packaging.

How would you feel if the Irish government were to introduce such a rule?

Via BBC