Coffee capsules have been taking hard hits in recent times, from a “Kill the K-Cup” video that went viral on Youtube last year to remarks by John Sylvan, one of the founders of Keurig’s K-Cup, expressing remorse at ever having invented the now ubiquitous coffee pod.
Yet the latest news on the coffee front is perhaps the most drastic: In January, the German city of Hamburg announced a ban on the purchase and use of coffee pods in all government-run buildings and institutions across the city.
“Capsule-coffee is expensive and the pods don’t have a good ecological balance sheet,” said Jan Dube, media spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment and Energy. “They have lots of packaging compared to the small amount of coffee and we just decided we don’t want to buy those products anymore with public money.”
According to Dube, total consumption in 2014 in Germany was roughly three billion coffee capsules, which is estimated to equate to about 64 million pods consumed by Hamburg’s 1.75 million inhabitants. The number is concerning, said Dube, because the capsules’ composition of plastic and aluminum is so hard to recycle. There is also a lot of packaging for just a little bit of coffee. Dube estimates that there are roughly three grams of packaging for every six grams of coffee.