Compostable Alternative for Coffee

In a supermarket first, Waitrose will start replacing coffee capsules with a home compostable alternative, saving millions of capsules from landfill.

The previous capsules were made from mixed materials (polypropylene with an aluminium lid) which were difficult to separate for recycling.

Now, the retailer will sell coffee capsules made from bio-sourced materials, including sunflower seed bark and sugars derived from corn, which are fully compostable. The lid is made from cellulose and can also be home-composted. The box is fully recyclable.

Arriving in shops this week, the coffee will be the first own-label home compostable capsules that can be used in Nespresso-style coffee machines.

Prompted by the pandemic, we have seen a significant rise in coffee sales in the last 12 months, up by 39%, as customers stayed at home and replaced their office or High Street coffee with a homemade roast.  John Lewis also saw an increase in sales for coffee capsule machines. Even after lockdown, this trend is expected to continue as people work from home more in the future.

Made from Fairtrade coffee, four different blends in the new packaging will be available in shops and on waitrose.com from this week,  including Espresso 10s and 20s, Lungo 10s, Ristretto 10s and Decaf 10s.

"We’re working hard so that all our packaging can be more easily recycled, reusable or home compostable in the next two years. After a year of so many cups of coffee, it was essential we looked for a more sustainable material. As coffee grains can also be used as a fertiliser,  making our capsules home compostable was an ideal alternative," said Polly Astbury, our Coffee Buyer.

"We recently ranked first in Greenpeace’s annual league table, for the second year in a row, which looks at how supermarkets are reducing use of single-use plastics.

We are on track to making all own-label packaging widely recycled, reusable or home compostable by 2023."