The coffee pod market has ballooned so much in recent years that it is expected to overtake instant and ground coffee as soon as 2020 — but its popularity represents a huge environmental problem.

The majority of those handy, single-serve plastic coffee capsules are never recycled. Halo, a UK-based ethical coffee pod brand that launched on Monday, claims more than 20 billion coffee pods containing aluminium or plastic are produced each year.

Halo co-founder Nils Leonard — the former executive creative chairman of ad agency Grey London told Business Insider: “We believe it [coffee capsule waste] will be illegal in a few years’ time.”

Halo claims to have created the “world’s first” fully compostable coffee capsule, which is compatible with home Nespresso machines.

There are other compostable coffee capsules on the market, but they usually require being sent to a municipal composting facility. Halo’s pods can be tossed in the kitchen food bin and biodegrade completely within 90 days — compared to the 150 to 200 years it takes for aluminium to begin breaking down.

 

Cofounder Richard Hardwick tells us they’re so compostable, he is even growing tomatoes from them.

The product itself is high-end: Kopi Lawak Diamond, Panamanian Geisha, Royal Kona, and Three Mountain — bespoke blends of rare coffees, roasted by Antica Tostatura Triestina in Italy.

As to be expected, the price point is high too: US$12.46 for a box of 10 capsules. Nespresso pods usually retail at around US$0.37 to US$0.50 per capsule . But as well as household consumers, Halo is also targeting businesses like luxury hotels and restaurants as it looks to spread its ethical message.

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In a press release, Hardwick, a former UK Barista Championship judge, said:

“Most people don’t understand the irreversible damage coffee capsules are inflicting on the planet. Aluminium and plastic coffee capsules are very difficult to recycle so most end up in the bin and that’s why up to 75 per cent are currently being sent to landfill every minute. It’s a design challenge no-one has cracked. Until now. I’ve been creating premium espresso for 23 years and capsules for over 10 years and this is the culmination of what I’ve been trying to deliver to coffee lovers for all this time.”

Halo’s two other co-founders are former Nespresso business director Andrew Richardson and David Foster, a trained barista and master coffee brewer.

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The coffee pods are only currently available to order online from Halo’s website, but its FAQ section states: “Having spent a long time creating the capsules and crafting the coffee we are launching online and in the future we hope to work with like minded partners who share our core values and ethos.”

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