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Aluminium

41 quality checks are performed in our production
centers to ensure a perfect capsule protecting
highest quality coffee

Aluminium is the best material to protect our Grands Crus

We use aluminium because it is the best material available today to protect our highest quality coffees. Our hermetically sealed aluminium capsules provide the best protection against factors such as oxygen, light and humidity that can compromise freshness, taste and quality.

A recent study published by Chahan Yeretzian from Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland, comparing four different capsule materials concluded that aluminium capsules, as used by Nespresso, are the best to preserve coffee freshness and aromas during one year shelf-life. Capsules with aluminium coated overwrap come second.

Aluminium is also the only material that interacts with our machines in such a way as to consistently produce the best coffee.

Using aluminium capsules allows us to eliminate the need for any additional packaging or overwrap to protect freshness, providing further advantages from a sustainability perspective.

And because it is lightweight, using aluminium for the Nespresso capsules also provides transportation and environmental savings when compared to other packaging materials.


 

Aluminium for lower environmental impact

Aluminium is also infinitely recyclable. We are committed to increasing the collection and recycling of used Nespresso capsules to improve our environmental performance. Recycling saves up to 95% of the energy needed to produce aluminium from raw bauxite, and avoids the emissions associated with mining, refining and smelting. Recycling takes aluminium materials from the waste stream to manufacture new aluminium products, and thus avoids the need to extract new natural resources.


First, virgin aluminium is turned into Nespresso capsules. Once used by our consumers, the capsules sent for
recycling are gathered in a recycling centre. There, the coffee grounds are separated out of the used capsules.
Coffee grounds will get a second life as compost, heating briquettes or biogas, for example, while the aluminium
will be used to make new aluminium products.

 

To ensure that we have a complete understanding of the environmental impacts of our products, we use a scientific tool called life cycle assessment (LCA) looking at our entire value chain. It shows that the impacts are dominated by the coffee cultivation and electricity used by the coffee machine. Unlike what people generally think, packaging is not the main driver of environmental impact, it only comes third. LCA studies have shown that capsule production accounts for less than 14% of the carbon footprint of a cup of Nespresso coffee.

For further information about the environmental performance of Nespresso capsules, see the factsheet on Environmental Performance.

 

Nespresso is developing specific capsule collection solutions

Our focus is to make it as easy as possible for our Club
Members to return used capsules for recycling

In certain countries, Nespresso consumers can recycle their capsules through national waste recycling programs. In Germany, this has been possible through the Green Dot waste scheme since 1993. This option became available in Sweden in 2010 and in Finland in 2012.

However, in other countries, national or local waste management schemes are absent or ill-equipped to separate lightweight aluminium from other packaging for revalorisation.

As a firm believer in the value of aluminium and the importance of recycling, we are working with numerous industry and governmental stakeholders to develop country-specific systems for the collection and recycling of used Nespresso capsules.

This builds on our previous success of tripling our capsule recycling capacity between 2009 and 2013. At the end of 2015, our global collection capacity reached over 86%, with more than 100,000 dedicated collection points worldwide. By 2020, Nespresso aims to increase its capacity to collect used Nespresso capsules to 100%, wherever the company does business.


For example:

  • In France, we have over 5,900 collection points in Nespresso boutiques, in the community, at Mondial Relay points and at waste collection centres. To promote and increase recycling capabilities for small-scale aluminium and steel packaging throughout France, we co-founded CELAA , the Club for Aluminium and Steel Light Packaging (Club du Recyclage des Emballages Légers en Aluminium et Acier) in 2009. Since 2014, as part of “Project Metal”, Nespresso is encouraging financially the collection of small aluminium packaging within the French national packaging recovery system by paying cash incentives for every tonne sorted.


  • In Denmark , Nespresso set an industry precedent as the first private company to launch an independent recycling system in 2014. Used capsules can be returned to Nespresso boutiques and more than 30 recycling points across the country. Spent coffee grounds are separated from used Nespresso capsules and composted at a communal composting facility.
  • Switzerland has over 2,700 capsule collection points across the country, and our capacity to collect used capsules in the country is 99%. Aluminium is separated for recycling and the coffee grounds are mixed with organic matter to make compost or will serve to produce energy and heat in a biogas plant.
  • In the United States, Nespresso has expanded its partnership with UPS in 48 states to significantly extend the reach of its recycling program. There are now over 88,000 capsule collection points, located in Nespresso boutiques, at retail partners and UPS drop-off locations. Club Members can put their used capsules into pre-paid recycling bags and drop them off at UPS drop-off locations. UPS then sends the bags to Nespresso recycling partner Ag Choice, where coffee grounds are separated out for compost and the capsules sent for remelting.

  • Nespresso is also developing customised capsule collection solutions for key professional (B2B) customers. For example, businesses throughout Paris can have their used capsules picked up by La Poste upon delivery of new capsules.

For more information about the different capsule collection systems in Nespresso markets, see the factsheet Perfecting Our Packaging Solution.

 

Club members can have their used Nespresso
capsules picked up when new capsules are delivered.

Making capsule recycling easier for consumers worldwide

Our focus is to make it as easy as possible for our Club Members to return used capsules for recycling.

In 20 countries, the Nespresso consumer website and Nespresso app for the iPhone, iPad and Android help Club Members to identify the closest collection point to return their used capsules for recycling.

For added convenience, we offer nationwide doorstep capsule collection in 15 countries through the Nespresso Recycling@Home initiative, where the post or courier services pick up used capsules upon delivering a new order directly at consumers' homes.

 

Taking leadership in sustainable aluminium sourcing and recycling

The amount of aluminium we use to make Nespresso capsules is very low in relation to global aluminium consumption (1 gram per capsule, as opposed to 13 to 14 grams in a soda can). Yet even as a small player in the industry, we recognise the need for a responsible approach to the use of this valuable resource and we have played a pioneer role in promoting more sustainable aluminium sourcing.

We work with stakeholders around the world to develop country-specific capsule recycling solutions. We are bringing industry players together to implement new uses of technology for aluminium and steel recovery, and to define a global standard for responsible aluminium sourcing.

In 2009 we joined forces with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other stakeholders as part of the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) to develop the first sustainable aluminium standard for the industry and to foster greater sustainability and transparency throughout the aluminium industry.



 

Nespresso ambitions to 100% sustainably managed aluminium

Companies involved in the ASI

Announced at the end of 2014, the new ASI Performance Standard sets criteria to drive responsible environmental and social performance, and business ethics across the entire aluminium value chain.

We aim to source 100% of virgin aluminium capsule material compliant with the new ASI standard by 2020.

In addition to increase our recycling capacity to 100% and increase our recycling rates, as part of our 2020 sustainability strategy The Positive Cup, used Nespresso capsules that we collect will be recycled into new Nespresso capsules, wherever it makes sense environmentally (for example, in Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Netherlands).

Download our infographics on capsules recycling (2nd version)

 

It is important for everyone in the value chain to take responsibility for promoting the responsible use of aluminium. Nespresso has played a leading role in calling industry to initiate a responsible aluminium standard and has put in place its own successful programs to encourage aluminium recycling by its customers and build recycling capacity for its capsules.

Gerard Bos, Director of IUCN Global Business and Biodiversity Programme
     

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