Polly Astbury, Waitrose Coffee Buyer

In a UK supermarket first, Waitrose will start replacing coffee capsules with a home compostable alternative, saving millions of capsules from landfills.

The previous capsules were made from mixed materials (polypropylene with an aluminum lid) which were difficult to separate for recycling.

Now, the retailer will sell coffee capsules made from bio-sourced materials, including sunflower seed bark and sugars derived from corn, which is fully compostable. The lid is made from cellulose and can also be home-composted. The box is fully recyclable.

Arriving in stores this week, the coffee will be the first private brand home compostable capsules that can be used in Nespresso-style coffee machines.

Prompted by the pandemic, Waitrose has seen a significant rise in coffee sales in the last 12 months, up by 39%, as customers stayed at home and replaced their office or High Street coffee with a homemade roast.  Parent company John Lewis also saw an increase in sales for coffee capsule machines. Even after lockdown, this trend is expected to continue as people work from home more in the future.

Made from Fairtrade coffee, four different blends in the new packaging will be available including Espresso 10s and 20s, Lungo 10s, Ristretto 10s, and Decaf 10s.

Polly Astbury, Waitrose Coffee Buyer, said: “We’re working hard so that all our packaging can be more easily recycled, reusable or home compostable in the next two years. After a year of so many cups of coffee, it was essential we looked for a more sustainable material. As coffee grains can also be used as a fertilizer,  making our capsules home compostable was an ideal alternative.”