Dualit has developed a gadget for emptying used Nespresso coffee pods at home, which it says means you can chuck them into your recycling bin, instead of having to send them back to Nespresso.
While coffee pods are a convenient way to make a quick brew, they’re often tricky to recycle. You usually have to seek out a specific recycling service, or dismantle and clean out the fiddly pods for recycling.
Nespresso has a recycling scheme for its aluminium pods, which allows you to send used pods back without emptying them, but you still need to go through the extra effort of ordering the bag and arranging for a home collection – or dropping it off at a collection point.
Dualit’s solution is the EcoPress: a device that turns used pods inside out, pushing the coffee into the container below so the pod can be easily rinsed and recycled via your home collection bin.
It costs £12.50 and can be used with any aluminium coffee capsule, which in practice means Nespresso and some Nespresso-compatible pods. It only works for Nespresso Original pods, not the larger Nespresso Vertuo system pods.
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Dualit EcoPress – how does it work and is it easy to use?
We found the EcoPress very simple to use – just pop in the used pod (once it’s cooled down), put the lid on and push down.
You’ll need to use two hands to push the top down as it requires a bit of pressure, but we found it reasonably easy to do.
Once done, you can take out the pod and give it a quick rinse to get rid of the last bits of coffee. Then it’s ready to go in the recycling bin.
We noticed that, one turned inside out, the used pod had sharp, jagged edges so you’ll need to be careful when rinsing it.
The coffee grounds, which are collected in the container below, can be added to your home compost heap.
It can hold coffee grounds from 10 pods, so you’ll need to empty it every few days / weekly depending on how much coffee you get through.
You can wash the EcoPress on the top rack of the dishwasher after you’re done with it, but it’s also pretty simple to wash by hand.
Can aluminium pods be recycled via your home recycling bin?
Small items like coffee pods, which may be made of plastic, aluminium or mixed materials, have traditionally been considered tricky to recycle, so cleaning them out doesn’t guarantee they will end up being recycled.
Helen Bird, recycling and plastics expert at WRAP, explains that: ‘Even if coffee pods are made from a material that can be recycled at home, it’s highly unlikely that they would be recycled in practice due to their small size – they simply drop out of the recycling process and are likely to either be landfilled or sent to an energy-from-waste facility.’
We asked Dualit if it had checked that ‘ecopressed’ pods could be recycled via home collections. Dualit told us: ‘During the development for the EcoPress, Dualit liaised with an organisation called Alupro (alupro.org.uk) that works alongside the UK waste and resources industry to improve the collection of aluminium packaging for recycling. Alupro confirmed after receiving and testing an EcoPress, that the empty capsules would be able to be recycled at a household recycling centre.’
‘The machines that separate mixed recycling (trommel screens) also now pull out the ‘fines’ (small items) that in the past might have been missed and sent to landfill. Most materials recovery facilities then put the fines over an Eddy Current Separator, an advanced metal sorting system that uses magnets to pull out non-ferrous metals like aluminium, from other materials.’
‘According to Alupro, if a capsule is still full of coffee then the Eddy wouldn’t be strong enough to capture it, but capsules could be captured and recycled as long as they have been ‘EcoPressed’.’
Which coffee pod brands are the most eco-friendly? – we investigate how easy it is to recycle used pods for different coffee machine systems such as Nespresso, Tassimo and Dolce Gusto
Are there other ways to recycle coffee pods?
The EcoPress only works with aluminium capsules, so you won’t be able to recycle plastic pods this way.
Some brands, such as Nespresso and Dolce Gusto, offer recycling schemes, which involve collecting used pods in a bag and taking them to specific drop-off points.
These can require some effort though – you might find there are restrictions such as having to place an order directly with the manufacturer to be sent a collection bag, or going out of your way to find a drop-off point.
Read our pod machine buying guide to find out more about choosing the best coffee pod system for you.
Compostable and reusable coffee pod options
If you’re trying to reduce your coffee pod waste, recyclable pods aren’t the only option.
- Compostable coffee pods – some are designed to be industrially composted via your home food waste collection scheme (if applicable in your area), while others are OK to go on a home compost heap. Discover which Nespresso-compatible compostable pods impressed our expert coffee tasters.
- Reusable coffee pods – metal or plastic pods that you can fill with your own ground coffee, use in your capsule machine and then clean and re-use. some have disposable sticker lids, others are fully reusable. Get our verdict on reusable pods in our Nespresso and Dolce Gusto reusable pod test.
Not sure if a pod coffee machine is the right fit for you? See our full guide to choosing the best coffee machine.