German coffee producer Tchibo is introducing a bio-based capsule for its Qbo brand made 70% from second-generation renewable raw materials.
Coffee capsules are becoming more popular around the world. However, the downside is the environmental footprint they have by generating a lot of packaging waste from virgin PP material.
Tchibo wanted to change the material composition of its Qbo brand capsules to improve their environmental sustainability. The company explains its first step was to partner with the producer of their capsules, Berry Superfos, and the Finish feedstock supplier, Neste, to explore what could be done.
Now, a year later, Tchibo has introduced a coffee capsule made with second-generation renewable and recycled raw materials.
“While our Qbo capsules are still made of PP, now the PP is produced from 70% renewable raw materials instead of virgin fossil oil as is normally the case for coffee capsules. This [transition] makes the entire Qbo range – containing sustainably-grown Qbo coffee brewed in Qbo machines – one of the most [environmentally] sustainable capsule systems on the market,” says Wiche, development manager for capsule and innovation at Tchibo.
The change to the Qbo capsules with their unique cubic shape is invisible at first, says the company.
“We needed to ensure that the high quality and great taste of the Qbo coffee would not be affected. That’s why we focused on replacing the raw materials for the capsules, not the PP itself,” explains Marius-Konstantin Wiche.
“We now use so-called second-generation renewable raw materials – organic waste and by-products, such as tall oils from forestry, waste fats from the fast-food industry and vegetable fats from cooking oil production. These materials go into producing PP polymers with the same quality as virgin PP – you won’t see or taste any difference.”
“We chose Berry Superfos for this project as it has experience with our product and holds the required ISCC PLUS certification to produce the capsules from renewable materials. Its knowledge of foil extrusion and thermoforming for our capsules is excellent and we also appreciate its in-house engineering and machining of related parts for our products.”
Coffee capsule developments
Earlier this year, Greiner Packaging developed a solution made from compostable polymers to help consumers dispose of used coffee capsules in their own backyard. The company entered a bid for TÜV certification in Austria and Belgium, which would officially credit the solution as home compostable.
Meanwhile, LyondellBasell and Greiner Packaging produced Nescafé coffee capsules from polymers based on advanced recycled post-consumer material. These polymers, branded CirculenRevive, are made using a chemical recycling process that converts plastic waste into feedstock for new polymers using a mass balance approach.
Also, Gordon Street Coffee launched Nespresso-compatible home compostable capsules made of Solinatra, a biomaterial that breaks down as fast as a banana skin. The company maintains the capsules leave behind zero contamination or harmful microplastics.
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