Ecolaboration: Nespresso and I Go Green Together?

Martijn Graat
Martijn Graat

One of the first things I do when I wake up in the morning is make a cup of coffee to jump start my engine. Of the many coffee systems available I chose a Nespresso machine, which is the reason I received the e-mail message depicted below.

Nespresso Ecolaboration e-Mail

 Nespresso e-mail (click to enlarge)

In English, the mail says:

Recycling of used Nespresso capsules – ecolaboration

Nespresso is a strong believer in Sustainability and has therefore developed a system to recycle your used Nespresso capsules. You can hand over your used capsules at one of our Boutiques or return it with the Parcel Carrier that delivers your new capsules.

To return used capsules via the Parcel Carrier we have developed a special bag. This ‘Recycling Bag’ can be added to your next order. The filled bag can be handed over to the person delivering your new order of Nespresso coffee.

This triggered my curiosity and I Googled “Ecolaboration”:

Nespresso has launched Ecolaboration™, a consolidation of all of its Sustainability efforts in coffee, capsules, machines and across its entire operation into one concerted programme. Within the Ecolaboration™ framework Nespresso is making the following commitment by 2013:

Nespresso will put systems in place to triple its capacity to recycle used capsules to 75%

The first challenge when you want to recycle is setting up a Reverse Logistics system. Using the Parcel Carrier delivering the new coffee is a smart move. Also, the Boutiques will have to be equipped to receive (potentially) large quantities of used coffee capsules, delivered in all sorts of (smelly) packaging. The capsules need to be collected and taken to the recycling installations. The coffee can be made into fertilizer and the cups can be melted and the aluminium re-used. Assuming they have cost-effective installations and processes for that, this completes the Reverse Logistics system. (As a consumer I immediately wonder if these costs are maybe covered by the latest rise in the price per capsule, or if Nespresso will eat some of the cost themselves. On the other hand, being sustainable can mean putting in an extra effort and additional cost)

For a product like the Nespresso capsule, there is a second and much bigger challenge. How do you get 75% of your capsules back??

There is no deposit like some countries have for soda or beer bottles. There is no law that says you have to return your capsules to Nespresso. There is no incentive (at least not yet) being offered for returning capsules. Nespresso has simply chosen to speak to our Green hearts and ask us to help them be more sustainable. I wonder if that is enough.  I will send the sustainable people of Nespresso an e-mail asking them about the percentage of sustainable customers so far and report back with their answer.

Even if just out of curiosity I will order a recycling bag next time I order capsules and see if that works for me.

What would you do if you were Nespresso?

And what will you do next time you empty the container with empty capsules from your machine?


I suggest you turn off sound before watching the Ecolaboration video, as there is the only music in it. Bad music, but that could just be me… The video however shows how they (want to) do it. //EDIT 09-152015 – The video originally shown here is no longer available. I’ve replaced it with a similar video.

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Image by Monika Mesterházy from Pixabay


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