The organic waste audit in Blog Post A was an effective way to categorise and identify organic waste stream on a day to day basis. By putting quantitative data onto a page, we can start to formulate solutions to our problems, allowing us to highlight problem areas that might otherwise be overlooked. While the audit was done on a one day, on a personal basis, large companies can also use such methods to conduct research on interested areas.
Apart from having a quantitative set of data results, when combined with other data methods such as surveys, allows them to gauge level of interest for public to participate in prospective programs, economic advantage and disadvantages and the current process in which waste is processed and disposed of.
On a larger scale, an audit becomes a time consuming affair – One example is Planet Ark’s Coffee Ground Recovery Program Report, wherein they used six-months of data gathering, laboratory testing and surveys in order to create the study, allowing them to propose prospective solutions but at this point implementing would be a different process altogether.
Photo: Thomas Guignard
In a similar vein, the explosion in single serve coffee pod’s popularity also poses an environmental challenge, as Planet Ark finds that the aluminium used in Nespresso pods are easy to recycle, but material recovery facilities are not equipped to cope with items that small.
“The recycling system is designed to deal with bottles and cans, and things like that – if anyone puts a pod in their home recycling bin, it will just fall through the [filtering] screen and become a contaminant in the recycling system,”
– Brad Gray, Planet Ark, ‘Should you recycle your coffee pods?’
With this information in mind, sustainability driven entities are able to formulate solutions. For example, the German city of Hamburg has banned Coffee pods as part of an environmental drive to reduce waste. Nespresso, the pioneer in single serve coffee pods, has their own coffee pod recycling initiative, with 14,000 capsule collection points worldwide with the capacity to recycle over 80% of all used capsules. (Nicholson, 2016)
While measures exist, it is still not enough to decrease the environmental impact due to the energy intensive nature of aluminium production. (Gunther, 2015) While traditional pods can take more than 500 year to decompose and requires them to be emptied of coffee grounds, some cheaper supermarket alternative uses a plastic layer inside that means they cannot be recycled.
To tackle the problem at its root, two young entrepreneurs from Auckland, Jayden Klinac and Josh Cole developed bio degradable single serve coffee pods that does not even need to be put through the recycle process. These pods are made from plant fibres and can be composted in 180 days, along with the nutritious coffee grind residue inside. They looked at the problem at hand, and the waste stream where these thousands upon thousands of coffee pods are ending up, and designed a solution that addresses the issue at its core.
By using results garnered from waste audit, and looking at where the organic wastes comes from and where it goes in its life cycle, we will be able to formulate solutions that not only solves the outcomes, but can tackle the issue before it even becomes a problem.
Morgan Tait, 31th July 2014, ‘Eco-friendly coffee capsule gives young Kiwis shot at big time’, NZ Herald, <http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11301675> Accessed 6th June 2016
A Cameron & S O’Malley, 2016, Coffee Ground Recovery Program Report by Planet Ark, <http://planetark.org/documents/doc-1397-summary-report-of-feasibility-study-april-2016.pdf> Accessed 6th June 2016
Esme Nicholson, 1st March 2016, ‘Why This German City Has Banned Coffee Pods In Government Buildings’ <http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/03/01/468631065/why-this-german-city-has-banned-coffee-pods-in-government-buildings> Accessed 6th June 2016
Signe Dean, 2nd Feb 2016, ‘Should you recycle your coffee pods?’ <http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/science/earth/article/2016/02/02/should-you-recycle-your-coffee-pods> Accessed 6th June 2016
Marc Gunther, 28th May 2015, ‘The good, the bad and the ugly: sustainability at Nespresso’ <http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/may/27/nespresso-sustainability-transparency-recycling-coffee-pods-values-aluminum>Accessed 6th June 2016