What is Nestlé doing to improve the environmental performance of portioned coffee systems?


Portioned coffee makes sense from a sustainability perspective. It prevents waste through precision as single-serve machines use only the exact amount of coffee, water and energy required to brew each cup. Coffee is not wasted down the sink, as commonly seen with the use of drip filter systems.

To assess coffee’s environmental performance, its entire lifecycle must be considered - from cultivation of the beans, to brewing and the disposal of capsules, and the energy and water required along the way. Experts have shown that coffee cultivation, the production of packaging and the use of coffee machines have the biggest impacts.

That is why our Nespresso and Nescafé Dolce Gusto businesses have significantly improved the energy consumption of their machines, continue to promoting responsible coffee farming practices that safeguard biodiversity and have reduced the weight of their packaging, using responsibly sourced, recyclable and renewable materials. Both companies are actively increasing rates of capsule recovery and recycling.

Question and Answer

Is your coffee responsibly sourced? What are you doing to improve the environmental and social performance of your coffee sourcing?

Nespresso and Nescafé Dolce Gusto are working on a range of initiatives in this regard. For example, Nespresso established the AAA Sustainable Quality program in 2003 together with the Rainforest Alliance, and now sources more than 80% of its coffee through this method. Nescafé Dolce Gusto is part of the NESCAFÉ® Plan, in which Nestlé has invested CHF 200 million over the past ten years, focusing on developing more sustainable coffee and improving farmers’ livelihoods by helping them to achieve higher yields and better quality. We are committed, together with our agricultural experts and the support of the Rainforest Alliance, other partners from the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) and the 4C Association, to drive continuous improvement.

What have you done to improve the environmental performance of your packaging?

Nespresso’s aluminium capsules weigh just one gram, which helps minimise the overall weight of packaging used and its associated environmental performance. In addition, in 2009, with the support of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the business joined forces with other stakeholders to develop the first sustainable aluminium standard. By 2020, Nespresso aims to source 100% of virgin aluminium capsule material compliant with this new Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) standard. Aluminium is infinitely recyclable. An estimated 75% of the aluminium ever produced is still in use today.

Nescafé Dolce Gusto capsules are packed in recyclable cardboard boxes, and the packaging used for Nescafé Dolce Gusto machines is made using a paper pulp tray made from renewable resources, which can also be recycled. The business is continuing to investigate ways of optimising the weight of materials in its capsules while maintaining product quality and safety levels. It is also working with materials suppliers, to develop plastics made from responsibly managed and renewable resources with improved environmental performance.

What have you done to improve the environmental performance of your machines?

Nespresso and Nescafé Dolce Gusto portioned coffee machines deliver the required amount of hot water for each cup of coffee and then switch to standby mode when not in use, saving energy and reducing energy use per cup. The carbon emissions associated with our Nescafé Dolce Gusto system have diminished by 30% since launch in 2006. Nespresso has constantly improved its environmental performance and will reduce its carbon footprint per cup by an additional 10% by 2020, having achieved a 22% reduction between 2009 and 2013.

What specific measures have you taken to improve recycling rates and what is your objective? How will you demonstrate progress?

Nespresso has put in place the capacity to recycle over 86% of used capsules and will increase this to 100% by 2020. It has built dedicated capsule collection systems in 39 countries, including more than 100,000 collection points worldwide. Used capsules are also recycled through three national packaging recovery schemes (Green Dot) in Germany, Sweden and Finland. Nespresso is working hard to become included in similar recovery schemes in a number of countries such as France where it is demonstrating and investing in technology that can recover smaller items of aluminium from the established scheme. Additionally, Nespresso has set up [email protected] initiatives in 16 countries, where used capsules are picked up by the postman or a courier when a new order is delivered. Recycled aluminium can be reused in other products, while spent coffee grounds are used in a variety of ways, including creating nutrient-rich compost or biogas.

Nescafé Dolce Gusto is working with Green Dot associations to improve the collection, recycling and correct disposal of coffee capsules. The business aims to improve participation in plastic recycling schemes, which vary significantly from country to country. Pilot projects are underway to identify the best approach in individual territories. For example, in Portugal, Nescafé Dolce Gusto is using plastic from used capsules to support a scheme for building urban furniture. In Germany, NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® capsules are already collected by the local Green Dot organisation and incinerated to generate energy. The business is committed to delivering a significant increase in capsule recovery and recycling rates.



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