In the food and beverage industry, what seems good for convenience can often prove harmful to the environment. Plastic single-use utensils, bottles, bags, and takeout packaging containers end up cluttering our landfills and entering the oceans. Single-serving coffee pods are designed to be thrown away, and their use has exploded over the recent years. The American Coffee Association estimates that single-serve brews have jumped from 4% to 13% since 2010. To help reduce their footprint, Canadian specialty roaster Canterbury Coffee has developed a 90% biodegradable pod called the OneCoffee Cup.
The OneCoffee Cup is made from PLA-based resin from DaniMer Scientific LLC. The material should break down in a landfill or anaerobic digester with just a little bit of moisture. Its nylon filter is the only thing that cannot be recycled, though the company is working towards replacing it with a degradable substance such as polyethylene furanoate. The coffee itself is organic and fair trade and packaged in paperboard that has zero net carbon emissions.
The cups cannot be composted at home, but will eventually break down in an industrial compactor. While not yet marketed in the US, they meet Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guide for advertising, except in California where they would need to be labeled as compostable instead of biodegradable as they cannot return to nature within a year. For the future, Canterbury hopes to make the cup 98% biodegradable.
Images via Canterbury Coffee Corp. and Wikicommons user Mark Sweep.