New coffee pods promise a great cup without the plastic waste
VANCOUVER -- It took three years, a 3D-printed prototype, a lot of time in the lab and the creation of a unique bamboo casing for the NEXE coffee pod to produce a good, strong cup of joe — without the plastic — or at least a very different kind of plastic.
The pod's plastic is one that returns to the earth in about 35 days, instead of lurking in landfills for generations like traditional plastics made from fossil fuels.
The hope is to keep the yearly estimated 40 billion single-use plastic coffee pods from clogging and poisoning the planet.
“We wanted to create a compostable pod to tackle this problem – and make sure the coffee still tasted great,” said University of British Columbia chemist Zac Hudson, an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Chemistry, in a news release Monday. Hudson created the pods with NEXE Innovations, a plant-based material manufacturer based in Surrey, B.C.
The new pod is what’s known as a bioplastic, meaning it’s completely combustible in industrial compost, and disappears in about a month. It costs slightly more than a regular plastic pod, said Hudson in an emailed statement.
While creating the new product, Hudson tested various materials and came up with a new formula for the inner capsule, which can hold 15 per cent more coffee and keep it fresher for longer. It’s also wrapped in a bamboo jacket that helps prevent the dreaded soggy bottom other combustible pods can suffer from.
The bamboo outer layer also feels eco-friendlier, lending a tactile authenticity to its composting claims.
“This has been a huge barrier to adoption of compostable pods in the past – consumers can’t tell them and regular plastic apart,” Darren Footz, CEO of NEXE Innovations said in the release.
The pods are designed for the Keurig K-Cup brewing systems and sold through NEXE’S online store, XOMA Superfoods, but the initial release of several thousand pods in January sold out almost immediately.
The next batch, coming soon according to Hudson, will be several hundred thousand, with plans to produce millions per year by 2022. They hope to be working with large coffee roasters and brands, including pods for Nespresso, to get the product to the consumer in the near future.