Different Types Of Nespresso Capsules By Material

We’ll mainly distinguish different types of Nespresso capsules by their material here.

As we all know, Nespresso capsules can be made from many different materials, which directly affect the taste of coffee and also our environment.

At the same time, these different materials also make a difference to the structure of the coffee capsule packaging machine.

Widely used materials are divided into three categories: aluminum, plastics, and compostable(plant-based) materials.

The aluminum capsules generally refer to the Nespresso pods of Nestlé, while other brands and coffee roasters have been slowly adopting this form.

However, the plastic capsules can be Nespresso, Keurig, or other forms.

That being said, generally, Keurig capsules were made up of three main elements -- the plastic cup itself, the paper filter, and aluminum foil.

Also, the compostable capsules can be Nespresso, Keurig, or other forms.

Then how does the material or structure of the capsules affect the taste of coffee or our coffee drinking experience?

And what exactly are the differences between these materials?

Aluminum Capsules

The aluminum capsules were fully airtight, and light-tight that they were used to protect the quality and freshness of our coffees from the exposure to oxygen, moisture, and light.

It is capable to protect the unique aromas and flavors of our coffee, making our coffee has a stronger taste.

It is also robust, yet lightweight.

All these functional advantages which surpassed others made it remains our material of choice for packing coffee.

Besides, it is 100% plastic-free and totally recyclable.

When it comes to the effects to the coffee capsule packing machine, because of the good thermal conductivity of aluminum film and cup, this kind of capsule requires a higher quality heat sealing system.

Source: https://www.afpakmachine.com/project/aluminum-nespresso-capsules/

Plastic Capsules

Today, most coffee capsules are made of food-grade plastic, with a plastic or aluminum foil lid.

Similar to aluminum capsules, most plastic capsules are airtight, lighttight, sealed in an low oxygen environment, keep the coffee inside for long time freshness.

They are also recyclable, after rinse the brewed coffee grounds and separate the foil lids from the capsules.

But normally coffee brewed in plastic capsules has complex flavors and different textures, mostly depending on how the coffee is roasted.

There are actually many different materials of plastic capsule on the market, each with different characteristics.

PP (Polypropylene)

PP is a highly transparent and crystal clear material which enhance the image of any product inside.

Coffee in the PP capsule will be highly protected against moisture and steam to maintain freshness and taste.

Generally PP plastics is similar to PE, but more stronger, and more expensive.

·Transparent

·Greater resistance to chemicals, heat

·Strong and hard to break

·Rough surfaces may cause scratches

·Outstanding vapor and moisture isolation

·Slightly inflexible

·Poor oxygen isolation

PP types of nespresso capsules
PP types of nespresso capsules

(PP Nespresso capsule)

PE (Polyethylene)

PE plastic is soft, durable and tear-resistant which perfectly suit for packing heavy items.

Therefore many industrial companies often utilize PE storage bags to package large, heavy industrial machined parts.

·Inert, lighttight, and produces low static charge

·Significantly less attraction of dirt, dust or other foreign matters

·Soft and elastic

·Great resistance to low temperatures and abrasion

·Poor oxygen isolation

·Generally speaking, the price is lower than PP

PET (Polyethylene terephthalate)

PET plastic is normally light weight, high transparent, good impact resistance and breakage resistance.

PET bottles became the main packaging material for beverage products today.

Especially those beverages which require high temperature sterilization filling, such as flavored water, juice, sports drinks, etc., are also packaged in PET bottles.

With its heat-resistant and pressure-resistant features, it has replaced various PVC bottles, bags, aluminum capsules, iron cans, glass bottles, etc., and has become the packaging material with the most growth potential.

·High oxygen and moisture isolation

·Strong and lightweight, higher strength and stiffness than PBT

·Lower moldability than PBT

·High heat resistance and pressure resistance

·Wide range of use temperature, from -60 to 130°C

·Practically shatter-resistant

PBT (Polybutylene terephthalate)

The majority of plastic coffee capsules today are made from PBT, with aluminum foil lids both on the top and bottom.

It’s very similar to PET capsules in many ways, with only a few difference.

·High oxygen and moisture isolation

·Strong and lightweight, slightly lower strength and stiffness than PET

·More elastic and tough (higher impact strength) than PET

·High heat resistance and pressure resistance

·Slightly lower melting point than PET

·Robust chemical resistance like PET

·Relatively hard to seal like PET

PBT types of nespresso capsules
PBT types of nespresso capsules

 (PBT Nespresso capsule)

PLA (Polylactic acid)

Different from all the above materials, PLA capsules are an eco-friendly plastic in packaging, made from compostable materials such as cornstarch or sugarcane.

There are data shows that the carbon emissions of PLA production is 68% smaller , and the energy usage is 65% less than that of conventional plastics production process.

The PLA skirt and the recycled aluminium or bioplastic film on top make these capsules an ecological choice.

·Environmentally friendly

·Poor oxygen and moisture isolation

·Relatively low strength

·Low heat resistance, toughness

·Available in a wide range of composite materials and colors to provide different performance and appearance

plastic types of nespresso capsules
plastic types of nespresso capsules

Source: https://www.afpakmachine.com/nespresso-compatible-pla-coffee-capsule

PP+EVOH+PP

The PP sheet with added EVOH barrier material is widely used in the food packaging industry, it can effectively block the penetration of water, oil and oxygen, and prolong the shelf life of food.

PP is considered to have outstanding vapor and moisture barrier properties but poor oxygen barrier properties.

However, EVOH is considered to have superior gas barrier properties on condition that not exposed to moisture. And it is more expensive.

This materials combination was not only used in coffee capsule packing, but also foods packing in supermarkets and other places.

High barrier nespresso capsules
High barrier nespresso capsules

(PP+EVOH+PP capsule layout)

Compostable Capsules

Compostable capsules are made from a variety of renewable raw materials, should biodegrade within several months in commercial composting, and can be added to local food waste collections.

Despite its eco-friendliness, there are still various challenges remain for biodegradable materials towards practical packaging applications.

Particularly with the poor oxygen/moisture barrier issues.

Therefore the compostable capsules are usually packaged in nitrogen-filled airtight bags in order to maintain coffee freshness.

Basically compostable capsules are made from the following raw materials.

·Wood bark/lignin

·Sugarcane/sugarbeet

·Cornstarch

·PHA (bacteria-based bioplastic)

By the way, PLA plastic capsule is also compostable.

wood bark types of nespresso capsules
wood bark types of nespresso capsules

(Wood bark based capsule)

sugarcane based types of nespresso capsules
sugarcane based types of nespresso capsules

(Sugarcane based capsule)

Recycling Process

Nowadays people care about environment and used coffee capsules recycling.

Thankfully, most of them are traditionally recyclable, which means they can be recycled like other plastics and metals.

Most coffee capsules contain four materials: plastic, aluminum, compostable material, and brewed coffee grounds.

All four of these materials can generally be separated, sorted and responsibly recycled.

Aluminum capsules

The beauty of this material is that it is 100% infinitely recyclable.

It does not lose its technical properties even recycled for many times.

It can be used repeatedly, which is why over 75% of aluminium production is still in use today.

You'll need to pierce the foil lid, dump out the used coffee granules (either in your food bin, compost, or other reuse methods), and do a quick rinse before adding it to your recycling bin.

Or you can just ship them back to a Nespresso recycling facility using a given recycling bag with a prepaid UPS shipping label.

Or simply drop the bagged capsules off at your local Nespresso boutique or participating store.

What happens to recycled aluminum?

The aluminium recovered from our capsules is reused to make a wide range of products, from beverage cans to car parts, bicycles and other everyday useful items, and even new Nespresso capsules.

Producing aluminum from already used aluminum can save 95% of energy.

The empty plastic recycling bags are recovered and converted into usable energy.

Plastic capsules

The plastic capsules are made of PP, PBT, PET, etc. that they are 100% recyclable.

However still in some place they may only be recycled in specific situations such as if they can easily be separated from other recycled materials.

How exactly to recycle?

The easiest option is to use Keurig's mail back recycling program for Keurig capsules or TerraCycle coffee capsules zero waste box.

In this case, you don't have to separate the plastic from the filter, foil lid, and coffee grounds, but just throw the used pods in the box.

Or you can check whether there are Terracycle dropboxes at Subaru dealerships that take coffee pods which always don’t matter brands.

The most conventional approach is that you probably need to first check with your community about local recycle program.

If they do take plastic pods in the recycling, then you can procedure these steps.

·Peel off the aluminum cover

·Separate the inner paper filter from the outer plastic cup

·Keep cups and other recyclable plastics together or just put cups in your regular bin if sorting isn't required in your area

·Put aluminum cover to other recycling bin or collect them together for next time

·Compost filters and coffee grounds

Compostable capsules

It’s an ideal option in dealing with recycling.

You can throw it in your home compost or green waste bin.

Or you can take it to your local community compost yard.

If it ends up in a landfill, it will still break down over time, just not as quickly as it does in compost.

Summary

We divided the coffee capsules into three categories by material in this article, and talked about how is the way to recycle them individually.

There may be some difficulty in recycling coffee capsules in your local, but do be patient and do it.

I also hope this article can be a reference to your selection of coffee capsules when you are preparing for mass production.

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