News & Updates

Coffee companies turn to compostable capsules as convenience and sustainability demands heat up

 Coffee capsules are becoming increasingly popular among coffee drinkers as consumers trend toward convenience. However, disposable pods generate a lot of packaging waste, leading manufacturers to search for environmentally sustainable solutions. 

As of late, the EU has been cracking down on coffee packaging waste, incentivizing companies to create compostable alternatives. These factors have driven the industry to maintain its focus on convenience while appealing to ecological solutions for consumers and legislation. 

PackagingInsights speaks to Shervin Dehmoubed, founder and CEO of EcoPackables and Hanna Krayer, sustainability specialist of the Migros Cooperative, about the current trends and innovations surrounding coffee capsules. 

Krayer informs us of the challenge confronting manufacturers of “how to invent a coffee packaging that provides the same convenience, quality and durability of single-serve coffee capsules” that also reduces waste and follows EU legislation. 

Environmental sustainability trend 
The coffee packaging market was reportedly valued at around US$2.8 billion in 2021, while total market revenue is expected to grow at 4.2% from 2022 to 2027, reaching nearly US$3.6 billion.

“We currently see a lot of tea and coffee companies exploring bio-based content. There has always been a tendency to use a paper-based exterior, given its natural feel,” says Dehmoubed. The coffee packaging market continues to expand amid increasingly stringent sustainability regulations.

While multilayer structures are more effective at protecting coffee beans than single-layer structures, they produce more waste. A single layer of material does not typically provide the necessary strength for coffee packaging, leading to flexible packaging tending to have a minimum of two layers. 

The most prominent “green” materials used for coffee bags are unbleached kraft and rice paper. These alternatives are made from wood pulp, tree bark or bamboo. While these materials alone can be biodegradable and compostable, they often require a second inner layer to protect the beans, which are usually made from virgin PP material.

Packaging accounts for around 3% of the coffee supply chain’s total carbon footprint, according to Perfect Daily Grind

Meanwhile, Innova Market Insights identified “Bioplastic Boosters” as one of the main packaging trends in 2022. Global consumers appear ready to embrace bioplastics, with 41% viewing biodegradability as the most environmentally sustainable end-of-life disposal method for packaging, followed by compostability (20%).

Compostable capsules
The CEO of EcoPackables tells us that the company has developed a kraft paper laminate that is fully compostable. He expects to see “a secular shift in the confections and dry-food packaging industry to home-compostable options, with post-consumer recycled content being a stepping stone to that milestone.”

“We’re constantly working on getting compostable laminates to a more cost-effective place. While we’ve seen improvement in this space over the past few years, a lot of the responsibility lies in companies choosing to make compostables part of their sustainability story. In turn, this supports innovation and infrastructure in the space.”

Coffee brands such as Nespresso have been working on reducing waste in coffee capsules over recent months with a focus on compostable materials. 

In November, Smile Compostable Solutions signed a material sales agreement with Pod Pack International, a leading co-manufacturer of single-serve coffee and tea pods and cups. The company will produce Smile’s commercially compostable, plant-based and carbon-neutral coffee pods that are compatible with Keurig brewers, enhancing environmental sustainability options for Pod Pack customers. Migros’ coffee ball is touted as the first coffee capsule system that works without a capsule.

“Achieving high-barrier properties with compostable laminates has historically been tricky. In the past year, we developed our C21 Laminate, which can maintain a high barrier for an extended period – often exceeding a year on the shelf,” continues Dehmoubed.

“The main pain point of compostable packaging, domestically, is the end-of-life prospects.” 

Home composting confusion
As compostable capsules lead the way for environmentally sustainable coffee packaging, ineffective product labeling can pose a greenwashing threat. 

Earlier this year, Greiner Packaging developed a solution made from compostable polymers to help consumers dispose of used coffee capsules in their backyard. The company entered a bid for TÜV certification in Austria and Belgium, which would officially credit the solution as home compostable. 

However, a recent study revealed that most “home compostable plastics” in the UK are ineffective and mislabeled, causing them to end up in landfills. The study concluded that most home compostable plastics don’t work, with 60% failing to disintegrate after six months. 

According to the research, calling plastic packages “home compostable” is a greenwashing tactic designed to take advantage of consumer interest in environmental sustainability. 

The coffee ball
In other advancements, Migros’ sustainability specialist explains that the company has created a coffee ball because of the “trend toward more sustainable packaging, in particular, recyclability and biodegradability.”

Krayer notes a “strong global trend toward convenience,” as the company innovates single-serve coffee and tea-like capsules, pods and Migros’ newest innovation – Coffee Balls.

Migros calls its Coffee Balls the “world’s first” coffee capsule system that works entirely without a capsule. Branded CoffeeB, the small, fully compostable ball of pressed coffee, has the amenities of conventional capsule systems but does not add to the 100,000 metric tons of coffee capsule waste produced yearly. 

The coffee ball is covered by Delica’s protective layer, patented worldwide. This layer not only gives the coffee ball stability but also forms an oxygen barrier that protects against loss of aroma, as is the case with aluminum casing. EcoPackables is innovating coffee packaging that provides the same convenience, quality and durability as single-serve coffee capsules.

Recycling and legislations
Europe leads in innovations in the coffee packaging industry due to the EU’s increased efforts to reduce the amount of waste generated by packaged foods in the region. Reports suggest the market is expanding due to increasing environmentalism and European consumers’ desire for biodegradable packaging. 

The EU has set new regulations on coffee capsules and plastic bags. Companies will be required to use as little packaging as possible, while countries must ensure that 65% of all packaging waste is recycled by the end of 2025.

The legislation comes as part of the European Commission’s latest Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. It stipulates that certain plastic packaging, such as tea bags, coffee pods, very light plastic bags and sticky labels for fruit and vegetables, must be compostable. 

However, with a focus on implementing new legislation for coffee packaging, the industry is crying out for transparent and improved recycling processes. 

“Often, there are no collection and recycling systems for specific packaging in place. How recycling is organized and collected varies from country to country and sometimes even from region to region. This is not an ideal situation but the reality,” says Krayer.

“Clear legislation on what recycling claims can and cannot be used on packaging would be helpful. Claims on packaging should not lead to confusion and wrong perception,” she adds.

In the US, Dehmoubed explains that in order to achieve circularity and ensure a lower footprint, the country needs to expedite the rollout of composting infrastructure.

“While industrial composting is important, having a designated composting bin and waste disposal system for this waste is essential for the industry,” he notes.


News & Updates

New range of aseptic tethered caps for the European beverage industry

The European Union’s Single-Use Plastics Directive will come into effect in July 2024. Specifically, it seeks to reduce the environmental impact caused by single-use plastic products. Affaba & Ferrari™, a TriMas Packaging brand, offers a range of tethered caps designed to remain permanently attached to the bottle after opening and during use – preventing unintended environmental waste caused by discarded caps. 

Beverage closures are among the single-use plastic items most frequently found as waste on beaches within the European Union (EU). The aim of the EU’s new Single-Use Plastics Directive is to reduce unintended environmental waste and facilitate the recycling of caps and closures along with their containers: Plastic caps and lids will be required to remain attached to beverage containers of up to 3 liters in volume. With this in mind, TriMas Packaging is now offering tethered cap solutions throughout Europe – caps that remain permanently attached to a container after opening and during use.

One innovative design with many benefits

Affaba & Ferrari’s range of tethered caps meets the EU’s requirements by offering several benefits to manufacturers, distributors and even consumers. The innovative tethered cap design ensures that the cap remains securely attached to the container when opened and in use. It is so robust that the bottle can be opened and closed over 15 times without compromising the integrity of the cap. Both manufacturers and distributors benefit from the cap’s versatility and flexible application possibilities: Due to the cap’s compatibility with both PET and HDPE bottles, costly neck changes are not required in the production process. The tethered caps are also suitable for aseptic filling, so manufacturers and distributors can ensure hygienic production. Additionally, a tamper-evident ring, for added protection, helps manufacturers guarantee product safety for consumers, who also benefit from the cap locking into a wide-angled position when opened – for convenient pouring and drinking.

The right solution to meet all requirements

To ensure that all customer requirements are met, TriMas Packaging offers two tethered cap solutions with different hinge options. The first product variant, a horizontal hinge tethered cap, features a diameter of 38 mm with an opening angle of 140°. The cap is also available in a lightweight design on request. The second product variant is a lightweight tethered cap with an injected hinge, available in diameters of 33 mm and 38 mm – and in two opening angles of either 180° (with hook) and 150° (without hook). Both caps are available in a variety of attractive color options, allowing customers to increase their brand identity and shelf presence.

For more information, please visit


News & Updates Sustainability

4evergreen launches recyclability evaluation tool for fibre-based packaging

The 4evergreen alliance has released the beta version of its Fibre-Based Packaging Recyclability Evaluation protocol, with the tool as a whole expected to create an improved and standardised framework for evaluating the recyclability of packaging products in Europe.

75 experts from across the fibre-based packaging value chain collaborated to develop the protocol by analysing data and drawing upon the results of over 50 recycling tests, said to have resulted in almost 100 samples. It helps users to interpret the results of Cepi’s recyclability test method, giving them insight into the quality of the materials their product uses and the efficiency of its recycling process.

These results are subsequently entered into a score calculation tool, which will provide a score between -100 and +100 based on the ease with which the product can be recycled at a standard mill. If a score is negative, it is considered less recyclable, yet it may still be compatible with recycling technologies at a flotation-deinking or specialised mill.

As such, the protocol is being expanded to include evaluations for such mills, and these additions are set to be launched throughout 2023. Users testing the current evaluation protocol are being encouraged to provide feedback to refine the beta release into a first completed version and contribute to future updates.

4evergreen anticipates that the tool can be used throughout the sector to score packaging products made of cellulosic fibres based on their suitability for recycling in standard mills, and by policymakers as a reference point for upcoming legislation of recyclability, collection, and sorting.

“The 4evergreen alliance’s strength comes from our ability to share expertise and join the dots across the whole fibre-based packaging value chain,” said Hans Wortman, 4evergreen chair and internal business consultant at WEPA Group. “This beta release of the Recyclability Evaluation Protocol for standard mills is a major step towards a straightforward, reliable recyclability evaluation method that the entire sector can use.

“The next step is the development of the Recyclability Evaluation Protocol for deinking and specialised mills. These efforts take us closer to our goal for a 90% recycling rate by 2030.”

Peter Hengesbach, project co-lead and recyclability manager at Stora Enso, added: “We’ve worked together intensively across the whole fibre-based packaging sector to share our knowledge and build consensus around this new and unique recyclability evaluation protocol. We are looking forward to hearing what people think of this version so that we can finetune it and expand its use to include all types of recycling mills. Our goal is to make this a widely used and accepted tool across the entire value chain.”

Cepi’s test method, announced earlier this year, is thought to estimate a paper product’s recyclability in an ‘ideal’ scenario by recreating industrial-scale paper recycling methods in laboratory conditions. It hopes to result in a complete transition into recyclable paper packaging by 2025.

Another recyclability assessment tool, Henkel’s Easy D4R software, was a finalist in the Sustainability Awards 2020 for its assessment of the recyclability of various kinds of packaging materials, including paper.

We also spoke to Tiina Pursula – 4evergreen’s deputy chair and SVP Sustainability and Division Packaging Materials at Stora Enso – and Ralf Mack, co-lead of the 4evergreen Expert Group on Circularity by Design and also Director New Business Development Consumer Products at Graphic Packaging International, about 4evergreen’s Circularity by Design guideline. It is said to outline the types of fibre-based packaging, particularly for household and on-the-go applications, that are compatible with recycling technologies currently available in Europe.


News & Updates Sustainability

Tim Hortons to trial fibre lids for hot beverages and replace single-use plastics with renewable materials

Tim Hortons is seeking to improve its packaging’s recyclability by trialling a fibre alternative to its single-use plastic hot beverage lids, amongst other transitions into renewable and recyclable packaging materials.

The trial will run in the City of Vancouver for around twelve weeks, with the new fibre lids – said to be both plastic-free and recyclable – seeking improved sustainability without sacrificing a positive consumer experience.

Additionally, the company is set to make the transition to fibre lids permanent for its Loaded Bowl packaging in its locations across Canada. It has also redesigned its breakfast and lunch wrapper to eliminate 75% of the material from its previous wrap box – a move expected to save over 1,400 tonnes of material every year.

The change comes in light of the Canadian federal government’s ban on the import and manufacture for sale of single-use plastics, which came into effect in September 2022. The legislation rules out foodservice items that contain or are entirely made from hard-to-recycle plastics, including drink stirrers, straws, and cutlery – the latter of which will now be made from wood or fibreat Tim Hortons establishments in a bid to save 90 million single-use plastics a year.

As the ban also prohibitssingle-use plastic bags, the company is providing its customers with reusable bags to purchase.

“Through our sustainability platform Tims for Good, we’re always looking for ways, big and small, to make thoughtful choices on material and design in order to reduce and eliminate packaging and contribute to more sustainable innovation,” says Paul Yang, senior director of Procurement, Sustainability and Packaging at Tim Hortons.

Stora Enso provided its own solutions to plastic foodservice packaging last year, including the Cupforma Natura Aqua+ material for paper cup lids and, in a collaboration with Picadeli, PureFiber formed fibre lids for takeaway packaging.

PulPac also worked alongside HSMG to enhance its Dry Molded Fiber technology with plant-based water and oil barriers; the resultant material was expected to be applied to coffee cups, alongside other packaging types, with the aim of ensuring their recyclability.


News & Updates

PepsiCo and Simonds Farsons Cisk reveal first redesign for Pepsi-Cola glass bottle portfolio in 27 years

PepsiCo has worked alongside Simonds Farsons Cisk plc, bottlers of the Pepsi-Cola portfolio since 1978, to create a bespoke single-serve glass bottle for its Pepsi-Cola, Pepsi Max, 7up, 7up Free, and Mirinda brands in the bottles’ first redesign since 1996.

The bottom of the bottle is twisted and etched for an improved visual and tactile experience with the packaging, while the swirl design and elevated profile are intended to appeal to younger consumers by encapsulating the brand’s ‘youthful spirit’.

Unveiling a new glass designis hoped to contribute towards PepsiCo’s new global goal to increase the percentage of all beverage servings it sells via reusable models from 10% to 20%, as well as reducing virgin plastic per serving by 50% by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2040. It is also intended to complement a similar design for the PET 1.5 and 0.5 litre bottle range launched last year.

“The PepsiCo portfolio in Malta has gone from strength to strength over the years and we are confident that the latest investment in this striking and bold new glass bottle will serve to further enhance our clients’ and consumers’ overall brand experience,” said Susan Weenink Camilleri, head of Sales & Marketing. “We are also proud to endorse and participate in PepsiCo’s recently announced global goals regarding Sustainable Packaging Vision.”

The announcement comes after Coca-Cola Europacific Partners announced that universal 250ml bottles will be made available in France for its Fuze Tea, Tropico, Sprite, Fanta, and Minute Maid brands; these can be purchased and returned at hotels, restaurants, and cafés, where they will be cleaned and refilled for reuse.

Desperados beer bottles underwent a similar redesign in 2019, with the “festivity, boldness, and spontaneity of the brand” reflected in the increased brightness of the packaging’s colours. The switch was hoped to reduce over 18,000 tons of CO2 overall.


News & Updates

A new dimension in brand protection with machine-readable holograms

IQ Structures, a research and production organisation focused on nanotechnology engineering, part of the IQS Group, has introduced holograms for packaging-related security applications that can be authenticated automatically, using normal light and a mobile phone app.

When checking the security features, it can happen that a supervisor is not completely sure of the authenticity and yet, for various reasons, is not able to verify it against the database entry. This is what the machine-readable holograms solve, says the company. By illuminating the hologram, it becomes readable with a phone and the downloaded app confirms authenticity there.

“Machine-readable holograms combine two very powerful principles. Our holograms contain unique visual effects that virtually cannot be replicated because they are based on special nanostructures. The second principle is automated control, immune to human failure.

Each is powerful, but together it is unbreakable,” says IQ Structures CEO Petr Franc. “This new technology has a range of applications, from personal documents to paper certificates and brand protection.”

The machine-readable holograms are put into ID documents as part of IQ proID´s product. This product is based on micro-segmentation technology to ensure seamless integration into the card. Any attempt to manipulate the holographic layer ends up disintegrating the hologram into thousands of miniature parts.

Other advantages of IQ proID are the possibility of full area protection, so no one can change any data on the document, plus the possibility of creating integrated security features combining different technologies (security printing, UV and OVI printing, tactile surface embossing and holographic). Many customers prefer this technology because of the distinctive visual effects, it claims.

Machine-readable holograms can be also used in the area of brand protection. With brand protection, for example, the company may have some sort of track and trace system, but doesn’t want to give access to all customers.

The customer doesn’t even know the details of the hologram, so they are only able to make a general check that there is a hologram present on the packaging. With machine-readable hologram technology, he or she could download an app and check that it is a genuine security feature.

Machine-readable holograms open up many other possibilities that will multiply the protective power of existing technologies


News & Updates Sustainability

JBM Packaging unveils customisable paper pack featuring biodegradable film window made from renewable fibres

JBM Packaging has launched EcoView, a plastic-free, windowed paper pack which uses a clear biodegradable film made from wood and cotton-seed fibres.

As a whole, the pack is designed to serve as an alternative to multi-material or “poly”film packages made of non-renewable sources. It comes in three different sizes – the sneak peek, partial view, and full display – to offer customers varied yet consistently clear views of the products within.

EcoView can be customised to meet individual customers’ sustainability goals, utilising differing percentages of recycled content and a variety of papers, closures, and hanging holes. As such, each package can be tailored to look unique.

The pack makes use of JBM’s FiberFilm, a proprietary transparent film derived from wood pulp – in itself said to be PEFC-certified, with the final film reportedly meeting TÜV’s environmental regulatory standards.

As it is made of diacetate, FiberFilm is compatible with kerbside recycling systems, but it has also achieved certification for home composting and is thought to serve this function bestin natural, freshwater environments.

“People want to enjoy natural environments without seeing plastic waste littered alongside hiking trails and waterways,” said David Warren, vice president of Sales and Marketing at JBM Packaging. “Our EcoView packaging line evolved from customers looking for curbside recyclable packaging solutions that showcased their product and eliminated plastic. EcoView delivers optimal packaging performance without the environmental impact.”

Previously, Mondi and Fiorini International worked together to create a paper bag set to package Antico Pastificio Umbro’s pasta products. It is reported to be entirely recyclable in existing paper streams, including its transparent cellulose window.

KM Packaging’s C-Cling clingfilm, meanwhile, is also said to be home compostable, as it is made from bio-based renewable materials. It is set to package fresh products in catering and retail and can be paired with compostable trays for a complete packaging solution