If you love the convenience of coffee capsules but worry about their environmental cost, here's how to avoid binning them.

According to Statista, 42% of UK households owned a capsule coffee machine in 2017 – and the number is only rising. But provisions for capsule waste were a low priority for a long time.

As capsule coffee grows in popularity, so too does the mountain of capsule waste. Many coffee capsules are composed of a mix of materials, which means they can't go in with ordinary recycling. If disposed of in the rubbish, they can take as long as 500 years to break down.

Now, consumers can help tackle the problem by using systems put in place by manufacturers to return and recycle capsules.  

How to recycle Lavazza capsules

Do you have a Lavazza A Modo Mio capsule machine? In November 2019, the company launched Eco Caps coffee capsules and phased out all of its other capsules in the UK. 

Eco Caps are suitable for industrial compost. This means that if you live in an area with food waste collection, you can put used capsules in with your food rubbish. The company claims that the capsules will break down – after processing – in approximately six months.    

Lavazza A Modo Mio Eco Caps

Bear in mind that the Eco Caps are industrially compostable only. They must go in the food waste for council collection. You can't turn them to mulch in your garden. 

Lavazza has also partnered with TerraCycle, a company that specialises in handling hard-to-recycle rubbish. If you don’t have access to a food waste collection, you can drop off your used Eco Caps at a public drop-off location near you.

TerraCycle has information about public drop-off points on its website. You can use the map on its site to find your nearest drop-off point, or you can set up a public drop-off point of your own. 

Lavazza is the first of the big coffee companies to come up with a capsule that will break down after processing in a municipal facility. All other used capsules must be returned to dedicated facilities created by their manufacturers.

How to recycle Nescafe Dolce Gusto capsules

Nestle has begun to take steps to stop its used pods from ending up in landfill. If you have a Nescafe Dolce Gusto coffee machine, you can send back your used capsules. Here's how.

Nescafe Dolce Gusto pods

The first step is to get bags. If you visit the Dolce Gusto shop, you can add recycling bags to your order. When you've filled a bag, return it via Yodel and Nescafe will recycle your used pods.

How to recycle Nespresso capsules

Nespresso machine owners have another option apart from sending off their used aluminium capsules for recycling. 

Used Nespresso capsules can't be put into your home recycling because of the coffee grounds trapped inside. But if you're willing to spend £10 and buy a Dualit EcoPress, you can recycle at home.

Pop a used capsule into this handy device, press down and it will be inverted. All you need to do is rinse off the remaining coffee grounds and put the used capsule straight into your recycling. No more bags, no more labels, no more hassle.

Dualit EcoPress

The other option is to send the used capsules back. Nespresso machine owners can request a recycling bag when ordering online or via the Nespresso customer helpline (have a look at its customer care details here). 

You then have four methods of recycling used aluminium pods:

People in the Channel Islands can drop their used pods off at main Post Office branches.

The coffee, aluminium and plastic bag are separated and sorted. The coffee grounds are turned into compost and the aluminium reused. At the moment, only 25% of Nespresso aluminium capsules are recycled. However, that figure is on the rise as more people become aware of return options. 

How to recycle Tassimo T-Discs

Tassimo users can get recycling bags online for 1p with their order.

Tassimo T-Discs

Once you've filled a bag, you can arrange for kerbside pickup or return your used discs via Yodel. The used items are cleaned and remoulded to make new products.

If it's time to replace your coffee machine, have a look at our round-up of the best coffee machines we've tested.