Guest Blog: Tom Greensmith, CEO at CRU Kafe

Apr 3, 2024

In the first of our new guest blog series, we hear from Tom Greensmith, CEO at CRU Kafe, the first independent brand to join Podback, about CRU’s experience and why they signed up to the scheme. 


CRU Kafe was built, back in 2013, on the foundations of making high-quality, organic coffee accessible, and bringing it to our customers in the most sustainable way. This means sourcing our speciality grade beans ethically and fairly in a way that benefits the producers and growers too.

For us to be able to do this, we went on a journey, really scrutinising our whole supply chain, from sourcing to production and packaging, and ultimately, changing how we operated to ensure we were truly living by our values and doing everything we could to care for the environment. Naturally, this also involved looking at the materials we were using including our coffee pods, and how we were recycling them.

This motivated us to redesign our pods. In 2018, we moved our production to the UK and, after testing countless prototypes, we decided to make our pods aluminium, a highly durable material that is infinitely recyclable. A few years later, in 2021, we became the first independent coffee company to join Podback, as we wanted to be part of the movement to improve the recycling process.

Through our partnership with Podback we are able to give our customers a convenient, free and uncomplicated way to recycle our coffee pods by offering recycling bags that hold around 150 pods and can be dropped off at thousands of Yodel drop-off points nationwide.

Our decision to join the scheme has been very well received by our customers who tend to share the environmental awareness that we hold as a B-Corp business. And I do believe there is an increasing desire among consumers to recycle.

But we can’t expect consumers to shift their habits overnight – it takes time and requires consistent messaging and making it as easy for them – and where possible, building the new behaviour into existing daily or weekly routines. Most pod users now understand the need to recycle single use coffee pods, but they don’t always know how, because often the information isn’t made easily accessible. That’s the benefit of being part of a scheme like Podback.

In the next few years, we’re going to see the continued growth of aluminium pods, and as we do, I think we’ll see even more consumer awareness and interest in recycling grow.

From my perspective, it’s the education piece that is going to be crucial – it’s all well and good telling people they should recycle, but it’s so important to make it as simple as possible and be clear about how they can recycle, and explaining what happens to the pods. We are looking forward to our continued partnership with Podback as together, we work to improve public understanding and increase the recycling of coffee pods across the UK.

Through Podback, used aluminium and plastic pods are reprocessed in the UK.  Recycled aluminium pods are used in the manufacture of beverage cans and car components, and plastic coffee pods are recycled into durable plastic products including furniture and industrial packaging.

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