They preserve the coffee aroma, are practical and therefore particularly popular in single households: the preparation of coffee with so-called capsule machines has experienced a great boom in recent years.
The disadvantage: Compared to filter coffee or fully automatic coffee machines, coffee capsules generate a large amount of waste that often ends up in waste incineration plants. This is because legally, beverage system capsules do not count as sales or outer packaging subject to system participation and must therefore be disposed of with residual waste, even though they may contain recyclable raw materials such as aluminium or plastic.
More and more manufacturers of capsule machines are taking their ecological responsibility seriously and the issue of recycling into their own hands: just like distributors of packaging subject to system participation, they participate their coffee capsules in a dual system and thus ensure that they can be disposed of in the yellow bag or the yellow bin.
And because the environmental issues of waste avoidance and recycling are more topical than ever, the corresponding manufacturers are also communicating this: major suppliers participate their coffee capsules in a dual system and provide information on proper disposal on their website and packaging.
The participation of coffee capsules in a dual system is voluntary. This means that not all capsules may automatically be disposed of via the yellow bag or the yellow bin. It is therefore best to pay attention to the packaging information on recycling when you buy the capsules! If you do not find any information on disposal on the packaging or the website, it is best to contact the manufacturer directly.
In order for a coffee capsule to be called "biodegradable", certain standards must be met - for example EN 13432. This standard specifies that the material used must have decomposed by at least 90 % within a certain time and under certain conditions. The problem: The specified conditions cannot be guaranteed in most industrial composting plants. The disposal of such capsules via organic waste is therefore not permitted in almost all municipalities in Germany.
These coffee capsules also do not belong in the yellow bag or the yellow bin. This is because even modern sorting plants do not recognise biodegradable plastics, so the raw materials cannot be recycled. This means that coffee capsules made of biodegradable plastic must be disposed of in the residual waste and therefore end up in waste incineration plants in most cases!