Express Pods What is the difference between Biodegradable and Compostable coffee pods? Express Pods

What is the difference between Biodegradable and Compostable coffee pods?

There is a lot of confusion and misinformation out there about biodegradable materials and compostable materials. We thought we should be transparent and clear up the differences and why we chose to use oxo-biodegradable pods.

Compostable Coffee Pods

Compostable coffee pods - industrial facility

Compostable materials come in two forms: Industrial Certified Compostable and Home Certified Compostable. Most, if not all, compostable pods are certified as Industrial. This means they need specific conditions and environments to break down. These are usually created in an industrial composting facility where the pods get exposed to high temperatures, different bacteria and are also aerated to oxidise sufficiently. The current problem is these facilities are few and far between in Australia. Only certain councils have access to them and the infrastructure for green waste is also limited across Australia. So most compostable pods end up making their way to landfill - where they break down and create methane gas and carbon dioxide into the environment (greenhouse gases which a commercial composting facility would capture).

Home Certified Compostable Coffee Pods

Home certified compostable coffee pods

The ideal goal is for Home Certified Compostable pods. These use materials that don’t need the same processes as Industrial Certified Compostable pods and can be composted in a home compost bin. This still requires your compost to be mixed and aerated and for there to be a mix of waste products eg. dead leaves, grass clippings, fruit and vegetables waste etc.

Sadly, the technology to make Home Certified Compostable coffee pods is very new and, in our opinion, not ready just yet. There are a few limiting factors. Producing a Home Certified Compostable pod involves making the pod strong enough to withstand the pressure of a machine, but also allow for it to break down quickly - but not too quickly. It also needs to be air tight to keep the coffee fresh. As the technology is very new it is also very expensive - making the pods very expensive to produce - it could yield unaffordable results for you guys, our customers.

As the infrastructure for Industrial Compost in Australia isn’t sufficient, we are currently researching and investigating Home Compostable materials and the technology needed to produce them.

Oxo-Biodegradable Coffee Pods 

Oxo-biodegradable coffee pods

Our choice of material for our biodegradable coffee pods is oxo-biodegradable. This means that, once in landfill, they will break down in around 2 years. We have chosen to go in this direction mostly due to our preferred method of home compostable materials not quite being ready for the job.

While this is not as ideal home compostable, we believe this is still a better option than manufacturing aluminium coffee pods. This is due to the majority of aluminium pods still not being recycled around Australia - not to mention the transportation costs. In fact, the environmental affect of shipping aluminium coffee pods to the only aluminium coffee pods recycling depot in NSW from locations around Australia would nearly be as bad for the environment as plain plastic pods.

I hope this has post has been enlightening for you.

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Express Pods Team 

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