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Coffee capsules and their environmental impact

by | Nov 5, 2021 | Waste recycling | 0 comments

Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages on the planet. In Spain, 7 out of every 10 Spaniards use coffee capsules on a daily basis, which means that 70% of the young and adult population consumes around 40,000 tons of coffee per year.


A threat to the environment

Capsule coffee makers have revolutionized the world of coffee and have become an essential appliance in the modern kitchen. They are easy to use, fast and bring the coffee experience into our homes in the most practical way. We are all aware of their success, but what we are not aware of is the gigantic environmental impact that small single-use coffee capsules may be causing.

In the last decade, the number of people who are becoming more and more careful about their habits to reduce their environmental impact has increased, which is why the coffee capsule industry has been in the spotlight for years. Every year more than seven billion coffee capsules are consumed worldwide, 39,000 capsules are produced every minute and around 70% of them end up in landfills.


How are coffee capsules recycled nowadays?

Coffee capsules should not be thrown into the yellow container. In order to recycle them correctly, we must know what material our capsules are made of, since it often depends on the brand whether they are made of plastic or aluminium. Currently, some coffee companies have set up collection points in markets, clean points or neighbourhood stores to facilitate the recycling of their capsules. To reduce the environmental impact there are many alternatives: return to the consumption of ground coffee, choose coffee capsules with compostable packaging or, alternatively, made with easily recyclable materials such as aluminium.


Ecopick as a solution for capsule recycling

At Picvisa we work with Vision and Artificial Intelligence technologies. For the recycling of coffee capsules, we go through two different processes, sorting and separation. In the first sorting process we train our machines through deep learning with images of coffee capsules so that they know how to recognize them. On the other hand, we use infrared to distinguish the type of material from which they are made. The second process, separation, is possible thanks to the optical separator, capable of reaching very high levels of detail through the Ecopick robot. A robot that allows us to separate several capsules at the same time and place each one in a different container.

At Picvisa we go beyond separating or recycling materials. Thanks to our state-of-the-art technologies, we can help coffee companies recover their waste and reuse the material to produce new capsules. That way we favour a sustainable system that allows us to contribute to a circular economy.


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