Recycling Nespresso pods in the United States
If you’re wondering how to recycle your used Nespresso pods, you have three options:
1) Use Nespresso’s pre-paid UPS pod bag.
On Nov. 17, 2015, Nespresso announced a new recycling program, which allows us to send our used pods directly to Nespresso. Prior to this, Nespresso partnered with TerraCycle, a company that recycles hundreds of consumer items.
Now, to recycle your pods, you simply order a UPS pre-paid pod bag from Nespresso, either by calling 1-866-212-8481, or by ordering the bag when you place your pod order online.
Each bag holds about 200 traditional capsules or 100 Vertuo capsules or 400 B2B capsules.
Nespresso processes the used pods, separates the aluminum from the coffee grounds, and melts the aluminum to make new products. The coffee is composted and distributed to landscapers, garden centers, municipalities and homeowners. Nespresso explains the process in this video.
2) Take them to a participating Nespresso boutique or a partner store.
• Some, but not all, Nespresso boutiques will take your spent pods. U.S. boutiques participating in pod recycling are:
• Chevy Chase
• Costa Mesa
• New York
• Palo Alto
• San Francisco
Nespresso’s store locator is located here.
• Sur La Table accepts Nespresso pods at many of their locations. You can check out their program and participating locations here.
• Williams-Sonoma has indicated that they are working on setting up used-pod drop-offs at their retail locations, but this system is not yet in place, as of May 2012.
3) Recycle them yourself with Outpresso.
• What seems to be the best, if not only, product on the market to help you remove coffee from your pods is the Outpresso. It’s about $30, but it seems to work well in removing the spent coffee. You also may recognize the smashed pods, as they appear online in handmade jewelry and such, like this necklace and earring set.
Other information related to recycling Nespresso pods:
Recycling Nespresso pods is complicated process, and there are not only few recycling centers that can handle pods. There are also layers of regulatory hurdles, depending on the country. If you want to recycle the pods yourself, you have to remove the coffee from the pod before you take the aluminum pods to your recycle center. Most recycle centers can’t handle the coffee in the pods, so this step is important. If you drop off pods that still have coffee in them, you may find that the recycle center simply throws them into the trash, and the pods end up in a landfill, any way.
If you live outside the U.S. [where this blog is based], you may find more Nespresso pod drop-off locations. Some countries are well-saturated with drop-offs, based on how long Nespresso has had a presence in the country, which means they’ve had more time to build a network of drop-off locations. If you live in Switzerland, for example, you’re not asking how to recycle your pods, because there is one collection point for every 3,400 people, according to this source.
If you’ve not already visited the site, here is Nespresso’s eColaboration site, which is dedicated to environmental issues. There is some interesting information here about recycling pods, but it’ll probably leave you asking more questions than it answers.
Meanwhile, stay tuned for the Ethical Coffee Company to begin offering its biodegradable pods — compatible with most Nespresso machines — soon. This company was launched by the former CEO of Nespresso, Jean-Paul Gaillard, who seems ambivalent about building a company that competes with Nespresso’s 1,600 patents. This article at FT.com is a good summary on the topic.
If any of you have additional information, please comment on this page and share what you know!