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Australian company’s solution to the war on capsule waste

BioCapDebate about the amount of waste being produced has been raging in Australia over the past month.

News reports state that more than 1.5 million Australian households own a capsule machine, a figure expected to double by 2018. Australians consume an estimated 3 million pods each day, with the capsule market on track to overtake the grocery bean market.

While some capsule materials can be recycled, Alana Beattie of Coffee Roasters Australia says Capsule Pack has a solution for consumers who want to enjoy a pod product – guilt free.

“Waste consumption is a huge issue at the moment, and it’s important that capsule consumers understand that our BioCap pods are an environmentally-friendly option,” she says. “Capsule Pack is Australia’s first contract packing company to launch a biodegradable capsule.”

Capsule Pack released its BioCap range to the Australian market in late 2016. Beattie says the company spent more than two years testing the performance and biodegradability of its pod range for the consumer market.

“BioCap is a solution to a growing problem,” Beattie says. “Customers are the ones making the most noise about the impact disposable coffee cups are having on our environment, and we know they’re making demands of coffee roasters to invest in biodegradable capsules too.”
BioCap coffee pods are 100 per cent bio-sourced and biodegradable. The material is derived from a plant-based composite material, obtained by transforming cereal plants to replace petro-chemical based plastics.

“Unlike other capsules made from aluminium, plastics and additives that don’t break down, ours is made from renewable resources and contains absolutely no traces of plastic whatsoever. Its nutrients go right back into the soil. That’s a key point of difference for us, and for consumers to know,” Beattie says.

BioCap capsules meet the European standard EN13432 for biodegradable compostable packaging, which Beattie describes as “the most recognised standard for compostable certification in the world”.

BioCaps are OK-Compost certified by Vincotte, meaning they have been tested in a controlled environment to biodegrade in less than six months.

The BioCap can disintegrate during an industrial composting cycle of 12 weeks into fine particles. What remains is a two-millimetre residue that represents less than 10 per cent of the original weight. The compost, which holds the disintegrated capsule, makes for perfect organic fertiliser.

“Certifications are based around controlled environments which is why you will never see a certification specifically for biodegrading of packaging if disposing directly into your rubbish bin,” Beattie says. “[Capsules] are most likely disposed of into landfill where the heat and moisture levels vary from day to day and by location, making it impossible to make a direct claim relating to the time for biodegradation.”

The difference with BioCap capsules is that they are 100 per cent bio-based so consumers can feel comfortable knowing that disposing of the capsules in the rubbish bin is no different to disposing of any other bio-based organic waste. The time they break down in general waste facilities is months to a few years, compared to plastics and aluminium, which take 150 to 500 years to decompose while adding no benefit to soil conditions.

Beattie says consumers can either throw BioCap capsules in the rubbish bin, where they will go to landfill and biodegrade. Or, if they can go to the effort of sending it to a nearby industrial compost facility – there are about 150 facilities in Australia with some councils offering kerbside collection of organic waste – the product will be transformed into an organic fertiliser.

“The latter is obviously the best as the fertiliser gets used to grow other organic things but in reality most consumers will throw [the capsule] in the bin where the product will biodegrade in landfill. The difference is that landfill is full of all the other waste that can’t be turned into fertiliser as all the products used must be compostable,” Beattie says.

No matter which option consumers choose, Beattie says they will still dispose of a 100 per cent bio-based product that will biodegrade quickly.
The other benefit, Beattie adds, is that BioCap doesn’t compromise on the quality or output of the coffee.

“It’s the ultimate win-win for consumers,” she says. “A biodegradable product doesn’t have to sacrifice on the crema, taste or texture of the coffee.”
Beattie says single serve capsules remain one of the most popular at-home methods of coffee consumption, and continues to be a prospering market for Australian roasters to tap into.

“Roasters who have utilised the BioCap biodegradable capsules have done so because of consumer demand, but those who do have seen incremental growth in the sales to their business as a result. Adding a capsule offering is not a difficult transition to make,” Beattie says. “We do everything we can to help our customers grow and be successful. We are really consumer-centric. Our success comes from our customer’s success.”

Capsule Pack’s consumer focus extends beyond its capsule service. On-site roasting is available, and it offers contract packing of capsules to Australian coffee companies and retailers. A wide and flexible range of packaging options is available, including boxes, bags, bulk packs and label services.

“We know packaging can be expensive, so we invite roasters to try a small run size of their product with our packing at a low cost, to test the market. This way, customers don’t have to invest thousands to trial new packaging. It’s actually a really low-cost way to get your product out to market,” Beattie says.

For more information on BioCap and to find out where you can purchase biodegradable capsules, visit www.capsulepack.com.au.

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