Nespresso: Saving carbon emissions

In 2009, Nespresso launched a recycling programme for its coffee capsules and got us on board to help with implementation. Used capsules are collected in public bins and through dedicated collection points all across the country. Around one-third of Nespresso capsules are now sent for recycling this way.

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Nespresso believes in the careful and sustainable use of our planet’s resources as a social responsibility.

The company has committed to implement collection and recycling schemes for its used capsules all over the world. To this end, Nespresso has partnered up with an organisation they know to be familiar with regional specifics in every country. In Austria, they commissioned ARA to establish a nationwide, independent and sustainable collection and recycling scheme for used coffee capsules as early as 2009.

What we do for Nespresso

From day one of our cooperation, our goal has been to live up to Nespresso’s sustainability promise: to keep as many aluminium capsules as possible in the recycling loop. We have drawn on the full range of ARA solutions to implement this project, from collection to the recovery of secondary aluminium.

Today, consumers in Austria can use an extensive network of collection points to drop off used Nespresso capsules. The network we have established includes municipal collection sites and dedicated drop-off points on the premises of ARA service partners to ensure maximum convenience for Nespresso customers.

All collected capsules are sent for recycling in the west of Austria at Höpperger GmbH & Co. KG.

What's the challenge?

What’s the challenge? Nespresso uses aluminium in its capsules to guarantee superior flavour and freshness. Aluminium has the best chemical and physical properties available today to seal the volatile coffee flavour from light, oxygen and moisture. While the production of virgin aluminium requires a huge amount of energy, recycling of aluminium takes 95 % less energy – and aluminium can be reused almost infinitely. In light of these facts, Nespresso partnered up with us as early as 2009 to conserve resources by introducing a dedicated collection and recycling scheme. Nespresso has set itself the goal to use at least 80 % recycled aluminium in its capsules by end-2022. This makes an efficient collection scheme all the more important to guarantee the continued supply with secondary aluminium.

Convenience is King!

Recycling schemes are successful only to the extent that consumers accept and use them, so they must be convenient and easy to use.

We have set up a network of collection points together with Nespresso and our extensive network of service partners.

Today, Nespresso customers can drop off used capsules at over 2,000 collection points across Austria. Consumers can return their capsules to Nespresso Boutiques, Nespresso trading partners such as electronics retailers and post office partners, or drop them off at recycling centres in selected municipalities. A dedicated map on the Nespresso website allows customers to see for themselves just how close the nearest collection point is.

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Collect once, recover twice

The collected capsules are sent for recycling to our ARA recovery partner. In a first step, the aluminium is separated from the coffee grounds. After smelting and refining, the aluminium is cast into ingots. These may be fully used to manufacture new products. The coffee grounds don’t go to waste, either: They are used to produce biogas at sewage plants, and the biogas is converted into regional green electricity at power plants.

The result

Our close cooperation with Nespresso, its partners and our service partners has been a success for over ten years.

Designed with consumer convenience in mind, the collection scheme has a 97 % coverage ratio – the nearest collection point is less than 5 km away from home for almost everyone in Austria.

This outcome is reflected in consumer surveys. A study commissioned on the occasion of 10 years of capsule recycling in Austria shows that Nespresso customers really like the recycling programme and use it regularly.

The collection and recovery of aluminium and coffee grounds from Nespresso capsules has saved several hundred tonnes in carbon emissions since the start of the project.

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Strong partnerships

Covering 97% of Austria

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266 tonnes of carbon emissions

saved between 2009 and 2017

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Local reprocessing

Promoting local recycling

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“Recycling aluminium and coffee grounds helps in resource conservation, which is an important component of our sustainability program.”

Alessandro Piccini

Managing Director, Nespresso Austria

Project lead: Gregor Koppensteiner