Stop using one-time plastic coffee pods

Tassimo mountain

Since 2012 Sussex Green Living has recycled approximately 80,000 Tassimo ‘T-Disc’ coffee pods and packaging through Terracycle UK and given the proceeds to a local school, but suddenly their pick-up point has changed. Now we are wondering: what are we going to do with all this waste?

Sussex Green Living is one of the UK’s best TerraCycle collectors, however due to changes to the Tassimo Brigade public drop offs we no longer able to receive money for our beneficiary the William Penn School. The nearest drop off location is now Findon and that’s a 35 mile round trip.

So what do we do with the thousands of plastic coffee pods our kind donors are dropping off for collection? Carrie is energetically trying to get Tassimo and Costa Coffee to do something about this, but so far no luck.

What are T-Discs?

‘T-Discs’ are small plastic discs which each supply a single cup of coffee to a Tassimo-powered coffee machine. T-Discs are also programmed to control the type of coffee, flow etc.

Where are Tassimo T-Discs used?

T-Discs are used in Tassimo coffee machines in homes but also many other brands including Costa, Maxwell House and Carte Noire.

But also Costa Express machines which have been appearing in motorway service stations, petrol stations and shops. These machines are in 5000 locations in the UK and worldwide.

Costa at Home machines also use Tassimo T-Disc pods.

Does Tassimo collect and recycle T-Discs?

A recycling programme is operated by TerraCycle with collection points at public locations across the UK. Until recently volunteers for the public drop off locations used to package up the waste resources and arrange for courier collection, however as from 1st December 2017 the recycling is collected but from far fewer public drop off locations. The Sussex Green Living locations in Horsham and Coolham are not collection locations. The nearest locations now are Rogers Farm Garden Centre, Findon, BN14 0RE or 3 Leith House, Reigate, RH2 8JQ.

Since 1st December 2017 Sussex Green Living volunteers have been transporting in their cars about 15 black bin liners of Tassimo discs and packaging every 3 or 4 weeks to Findon, however this is not sustainable. So with effect we will be ceasing to accept Tassimo at the Quaker Meeting House in Horsham and the William Penn School in Coolham. People who create this waste will have to take it to Findon, Reigate or it will go to landfill. It is an insane product, think of all the petrolium used to make the plastic pods, all the energy and fuel to transport the product and make the product, then lots of energy, fuel and water to manage the recycling process.

Shouldn’t Tassimo deal with its own waste and ensure that none goes to landfill? We think so, they created it. There are positive discussions in Parliament that companies are likely to be taxed for use of plastic packaging, lets push for this sooner rather than later.

What are the alternatives?

Many companies are gradually moving towards a no-waste ‘Circular Economy’ in which producers such as Tassimo would “own” their products and would be responsible for taking them back –  coffee pods in this case – for proper disposal. But this is a huge change in how we do things and it will take time.

Once in the Circular Economy companies like Tassimo will probably design pods they can reuse in their products rather than the throw-away pods we now have. That’s interesting – but why don’t they start now?

But there are things we can do with coffee grounds. Bio Bean is a technology startup that converts coffee grounds into bio fuel.  (https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/ce100/directory/bio-bean-ltd) They are even good for the garden (we regularly throw used coffee grinds onto our compost heap).

Let’s face it, we’re hooked on coffee. I can remember the days when an Englishman’s home had a large teapot made of silver plate or delicate bone china, and the way to make one’s guests feel at home was to ceremonially produce this on a tray or a trolley at around 4pm, complete with multi-layered cake stand and of course garibaldi biscuits for the kids. Anyone drinking coffee was obviously a foreigner.

Now we’re all coffee drinkers. Except builders of course, mostly.

We take our laptops to Starbucks and take advantage of the rather pricey coffee while sipping the free internet access. We need a large coffee to get going in the morning.

Coffee machines have become more elaborate, but there must be a better option than getting our coffee in tiny plastic pods to be used once then throw away.

Planet & bird friendly coffee – the best!

Clive writes about positive green living and local Sussex environmental issues through his website Inspirationalise – www.inspirationalise.com