Pods used in coffee machines are among the worst forms of human waste for the environment in terms of long-term damage, according to new research which suggests they will take 500 years to decompose.
That’s longer than plastic drink bottles which can last over 400 years, and considerably longer than aluminum cans which can decompose in 80 to 100 years.
Research conducted by Packaging Online reveals that 29,000 plastic coffee pods now end up in landfills every month – nearly 350,000 a year, where they won’t decompose for half a millennium.
However, the researchers noted that much less damaging options for coffee pod users are to purchase reusable stainless steel pods or use compostable pods that can decompose in under 2 months.
The study identified various types of man-made materials based on the time it took for them to degrade.
Glass is the most durable – with estimates that the material could take more than a million years to degrade, although the researchers noted that it is 100% recyclable and is among the most durable materials. most recycled on the planet.
Coffee pods are next on the list, lasting 500 years. Around 39,000 capsules are produced every minute around the world and up to 29,000 of them end up in landfill, as they are typically made of aluminum covered in plastic that is difficult to separate before recycling. One of the main reasons they persist for so long is because they are strong. They are designed to withstand the high pressures of the coffee making process.
The 16 million plastic bottles that are not recycled in the UK each year take around 450 years each to decompose. If Shakespeare had used a plastic water bottle, it would still exist today.
The research also highlighted the packaging waste with the least impact on the environment.
This included aluminum cans, cardboard and paper.
Tom Wood, Managing Director of Packaging Online, said: “Comparing the longevity of plastics against their more sustainable counterparts, such as compostable materials, cardboard and paper, clearly shows the impact that greater pay attention to the use of materials and waste. “