Compostable single-serve coffee pod developed at U of G
Published Friday, September 25, 2015 4:36PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 25, 2015 6:55PM EDT
While single-serve coffee makers continue to grow in popularity, people in the industry say that growth is starting to stall.
It’s hard to say for sure why consumers are becoming slower to adopt the product – but one trend emerges anytime the industry looks into it: environmentalism.
“People had concerns about the kind of waste that they associate with single-serve,” Chris McKillop, vice-president of roasting company Club Coffee, said in an interview.
Those concerns are what prompted Club Coffee to get behind the research being done by University of Guelph professor Amar Mohanty.
For the past year, Mohanty has been working on a biodegradable coffee pod.
This week, the fruits of his labour were unveiled publicly for the first time.
“It was a rewarding project,” he said.
“It makes sense to make something for a single-use (that) is possibly compostable.”
The pod is comprised of coffee chaff – a skin that comes off coffee beans during the roasting process – and biodegradable polymers, as well as a ring to hold it into place in the machine.
Agreements are in place for some American coffee brands to start using the Guelph-developed pods later this year.
It may take longer before it shows up on Canadian shelves, in part because governments need to confirm that they are workable within existing compost programs.
Cari Rastas Howard is a project manager with Waterloo Region’s waste management division.
She says that consumer education would be important if the Guelph product becomes widely adopted, as it may be difficult for people to distinguish between compostable and non-compostable pods when disposing of the products.
“It’s much easier to say coffee pods, unfortunately, are garbage,” she said.
“If we start saying that one particular product can go in the green bin, then we have concerns about green bins being contaminated with the other type.”
Despite that concern, Rastas Howard says she’s glad to see the coffee industry trying to create a more environmental product.
An estimated 25 to 30 per cent of households currently include single-serve coffee makers, McKillop said.