John Sylvan may not be a household name, but he has certainly affected many Aussie’s morning coffee routine.
Sylvan is best known as the founder and inventor of the American coffee pod. But he’s full of regrets about their environmental impact – despite having made millions. In fact, Sylvan has denounced those glorious little coffee pods.
“I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it,” Sylvan told The Atlantic this week, specifically citing the issue around the environmental waste they cause.
The concern over the environmental impact of pods isn’t a new one. And with three million of the pods being consumed in Australia every day, it’s one that’s probably not going away.
This is a post Mamamia published late last year about the one thing many Australians don’t know about their morning cup of coffee…
Mornings just aren’t the same. Late sleepers, once troubled only by the quiet gurgle of the boiling kettle, are now shaken from their slumber by the guttural sounds of steaming water being forced through aluminium or plastic coffee pods.
Conveniently secreted into the coffee machine’s collecting receptacle, the pangs of guilt from the latte socialists (and others) are only tweaked when the dank pods require emptying – generally well after the coffee has been consumed.
Australia is in love with coffee pods. Wooed by no less than Hollywood star George Clooney, pods have taken Australian homes and workplaces by storm.
As is the case for other beverages, Australians have shifted to drinking better quality coffee and pods are part of that mix. While pods are one of the most expensive ways to buy packaged coffee, they are also one of the most convenient.
The Swiss coffee pod innovators at Nespresso have been joined by usurpers including Germany’s Aldi and Italy’s Cafitally, proving that patents are easier to take out than protect. This having been said, the industry is in a rapid phase of growth – sales are soaring – and thus few are complaining.
Yet the news is far from all good. Pods are emblematic of a wider problem in our society, where we often say one thing and generally do another. In this case, where many of us like to speak about being “green” or living sustainably, even while sipping from a cup of coffee produced by an industry that is about as sustainable as an ageing Soviet nuclear power plant.
If, as some predict, pod use doubles over the next five years, a veritable environmental tsunami is in store. While recyclable in theory, in practice pods rarely are, particularly the plastic variety beloved by the budget-conscious.