The Pod People
These one-off “pod” beverage machines seem to be everywhere these days. A bunch of them use metal and/or plastic pods. Ever wonder what happens to the spent ones? Not all are created equal, none of them are particularly environmentally friendly by default. If you're not already brewing your own...
Our workplace first got Flavia machines. These use what they call “Fresh Packs”. They have a “Sustainability” section on their website to address concerns. Having un-recyclable packaging that they can burn into electricity apparently means they're doing their part. There was some suggestion that they'd be on recycling last year, but it doesn't appear to have materialized. One company notes that their Flavia packets are now taken by a company called Terracycle and converted into other things.
Later we swapped these for Keurig “K-Cups” which appear just as un-recyclable, and their enviro-talk is rather creatively worded. They have plastic cups with foil lids and are punctured top and bottom, however there is the option with this system of a reusable, refillable cartridge. This makes a heck of a lot more sense than the one-offs. If your workplace has a K-Cup machine and you pay for the drinks, it'll pay for itself in no time. Reviews are mixed on functionality, however.
Other ones I have no experience with include the Nespresso and Tassimo. The Nespresso pods are aluminum/plastic blends and they may or may not be getting more recycled in the future. Their recycling locations search page is a little useless and doesn't show any in Canada. There are self-fillable pods for these machines, which are supposed to be recyclable as well.
Tassimo has straight-up information about what is and is not doable with their “T DISC” system in Canada.6 Some parts can go in your blue bin, some parts can't. From what I've gathered in this looking around, the UK seems to have the most capacity for recycling any parts of these pods from anyone.
It's pretty sad that we'd even have these things in the first place, but it's good to know where they currently stand and that there are reusable options to put in the machines. If people love these devices too much to let them go, at least there's the possibility you can turn them on to reusables or nudge them to go the extra steps to recycle what they can.