Austria's first coffee capsule recycling project hits major milestone
Five million capsules of all types were collected
Austria has witnessed a remarkable achievement in its first-ever coffee capsule recycling initiative, a significant step towards sustainable coffee consumption. Launched in October 2023 by the Austrian Coffee and Tea Association (KTV) and Altstoff Recycling Austria AG (ARA), the project has collected over 5 million coffee capsules weighing 52 tons in just a few months. This impressive milestone was reached in the pilot regions of Upper Austria and the districts in Lower Austria Krems-Land and Schwechat.
A collective effort
The project's success is attributed to the collaborative effort along the value chain between leading coffee producers, packaging manufacturers Greiner Packaging and us, Constantia Flexibles, and retail partner Billa Plus. This comprehensive approach addresses the importance of a closed loop of capsules and enhances consumers' awareness of sustainable practices.
A pioneering step in a circular economy
This initiative is the first of its kind in Europe and a significant step towards a circular economy. The collected capsules undergo a specialized recycling process in a new facility in Pettenbach, Upper Austria. Here, coffee grounds are separated from the capsules and transformed into valuable raw materials. The aluminum and plastic from the capsules are repurposed for new products, and the coffee grounds serve as bio-fertilizers, oil binders, or biogas.
Enthusiastic support from stakeholders
Oberösterreich's Economic Councilor, Markus Achleitner, expressed pride in the region's contribution to this initiative, emphasizing its role in shaping circular economy and climate protection. ARA Board Spokesperson Harald Hauke highlighted the importance of such projects in raising resource awareness among the population.
Sustainability is a key focus for us capsule manufacturers. We joined the project with Greiner Packaging at the beginning of the year. Our expertise and innovative approach to packaging design play a crucial role in the recycling process and the broader goal of a global circular economy. "For us, sustainability is more than just a loose promise. We actively engage in the circular economy through projects like this and develop durable capsules made from secondary materials, such as recycled aluminum. This approach is not only resource-efficient but also reduces our ecological footprint and enhances the long-term value of packaging made from recyclates," said Daniel Winkler, EVP Aluminum Division & Sustainability at Constantia Flexibles.
For us, sustainability is more than just a loose promise. We actively engage in the circular economy through projects like this and develop durable capsules made from secondary materials, such as recycled aluminum.
Participation and incentives
Coffee enthusiasts still have the opportunity to contribute to this initiative until the end of March 2024. Participants can win a year's supply of coffee capsules, adding an exciting incentive to this environmental cause. Capsules made of plastic, metal, or compostable materials are collected in designated containers at all waste collection centers in the pilot regions and Billa Plus stores in Upper Austria.
This innovative and collaborative project marks a significant stride towards sustainable coffee consumption and waste management, setting an example for other nations to follow.