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Hamburg bans coffee pods in state-run buildings

In Germany, roughly 13% of people drink a coffee made from a single-cup brewer every single day. Environmental activists have long called for the ban of coffee pods as they are often composed of a mix of plastic, aluminium making them difficult to recycle.

The city of Hamburg issued a set of green purchasing regulations in January this year, specifically banning the use of ‘Kaffeekapselmaschine,’ or coffee capsule machine in government buildings, apparently the first city in the world to do so. Jan Dube, spokesman of the Hamburg Department of the Environment and Energy which issued the 150-page Guide to Sustainable Procurement says:

These portion packs cause unnecessary resource consumption and waste generation, and often contain polluting aluminum,The capsules can’t be recycled easily because they are often made of a mixture of plastic and aluminium. It’s 6 grams of coffee in 3 grams of packaging. We in Hamburg thought that these shouldn’t be bought with taxpayers’ money.

Sales of single-serve coffee have more than tripled in Western Europe and United States since 2011.Coffee pods make up about a third of all coffee sold in the United States and an estimated 25 percent of U.S. households owns a pod machine.

Only 5 percent of the pods made by Keurig, which has a major market share, were recyclable as of 2014. Nespresso, another major player in the market sold more than 27 billion of its sleek aluminum capsules worldwide in 2012. Even the inventor of the popular Keurig K-Cup, John Sylvan, admitted last year that he regrets making the product due to the huge amount of non recyclable waste produced.

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