Join the growing list of local authorities recycling coffee pods at the kerbside

Apr 28, 2023

What does a kerbside service for coffee pods look like, and what is the local authority responsible for?

Each scheme is tailored to suit the local authority’s existing service. Typically, we develop a 12-week launch campaign: Households are encouraged to sign up for the new service on our website, and are sent a supply of material-specific bags and an explanatory leaflet.

The local authority is responsible for collecting the bags. Some collect using a cage on their RCV, some have spare capacity in kerbside-sort vehicles and others chose to collect pods alongside materials, such as WEEE and textiles, in a separate vehicle.  Collected pods are stored in containers provided by Podback, and we arrange onward logistics to the reprocessors.

What is the financial cost to a local authority?

The simple answer to this question, is “zero”.

Podback is cost-neutral to the authority.  Any capital and operational expense - such as vehicle modifications, additional staff costs, communications and website alterations - are identified, and remuneration agreed between the authority and Podback.

Our recycling team is very busy: How much extra work is involved?

We work closely with each authority’s recycling and communications teams throughout the development and launch process to ensure they are fully supported throughout. This continues post-launch – it is all about building a successful partnership.

Is there enough demand to warrant a service in our authority?

More than 1.2 billion pods are sold in the UK every year[1], and 30% of households own a coffee pod machine. A recent survey of pod consumers2 revealed that 36% used pods every day. Our daily website traffic also indicates a high demand for pod collections, with thousands of searches coming from all over the UK.

What are the benefits to the local authority?

Because of their size, weight and the coffee contained within them, pods are not suited to conventional recycling collection and sorting facilities.  Partnering with Podback demonstrates to residents you are committed to finding solutions for “hard-to-recycle” materials.

Promoting a new service helps to highlight and remind residents about all the recycling services already available to them; and being able to offer another service at no additional cost is also a good news story. 

Pods are not classed as packaging so do not fall under the jurisdiction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). However, partnering with Podback allows local authorities to experience the principles of EPR in practice, and work with leading consumer brands.

What happens to the pods?

All pods collected by Podback are reprocessed in the UK. Aluminium pods are sent to Cheshire. They are shredded to remove the coffee, then remelted. The metal is used by manufacturers of beverage cans and automotive components.

Plastic pods go to Yorkshire: Following removal of the coffee they are reprocessed to create a polymer, which is used to make products for the building sector.  

The coffee grounds are sent to anaerobic digestion, creating biogas and soil improver.

Our short video explains the recycling journey of coffee pods: Click here to watch

To find out how the service works in other local authority areas read our case studies

Cheltenham Borough Council

Chichester District Council

Ipswich District Council

Ready to start a conversation about adding pods to your kerbside service? 

Contact our Partnerships Development Team: 

Email Paddy Pope, Partnerships Development Executive

[1] Neilson Total Coffee Database

2 Survey of 2,032 pod consumers conducted for Podback in June 2022 by Resource Futures


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