Caps and Pods

The Future of PLA Coffee Caps

French TV station TF1 covers the circularity of coffee pads and capsules in France and gives us an insight on the future of PLA caps.

2.300.000 cups of coffee are consumed every minute around the world.

In France, 3.000.000 coffee caps (not cups) are consumed every day.

Half of these coffee caps are made from aluminium.

Companies with more than 20 employees are legally obliged to organise the sorting and collection of these caps.

France has 180 waste collection centres and only 28 have a machine that can separate fine aluminium (caps) from the rest of the waste.

The recycling of used aluminium caps poses a problem because France doesn’t have a machine to separate used coffee from the aluminium caps.

The world leader of coffee caps built only one specialised machine in Europe that can separate used coffee from the caps.

The machine is located in the Netherlands.

All the french coffee caps that get collected for recycling end up in the Netherlands.

Only 1 in 5 French caps will be recycled in the Netherlands.

Alternatives to Caps

Many companies realise that coffee caps are not a sustainable option and cause a problem in terms of waste.

Many companies want to shift to a more sustainable option:

  • Grinded Coffee

This is the coffee machine that our parents used.

Grinded coffee is the most sustainable and the cheapest option.

grinded coffee

  • Metal filters

Inspired by the coffee machine in the bars or the small coffee machine that every Italian household has.

Metal filters are reusable …. lifelong.

Cheaper and more sustainable than any kind of caps.

metal coffee filters
metal coffee filters
  • Natural Fibres Pods

Natural Fibres pods are more sustainable and also 50 % cheaper than aluminium caps.

natural fibres coffee pods
natural fibres coffee pods
  • PLA caps

PLA Caps are more expensive than aluminium caps and are less sustainable than grinded coffee, metal filters and natural fibres pods.

PLA caps are not accepted in your local industrial composter so they will not be composted anyway.

pla coffee caps
pla coffee caps

In the field

I spoke to someone in the coffee industry who sells Italian coffee…a brand you probably know.

He told me that there will be 3 major trends in 2020: grinded coffee, metal filters and natural fibres pods.

When i asked him about PLA caps … he didn’t know what it was. When I explained to him what it was, he answered: It’s going to be hard to sell something we don’t understand.


Unfortunately, PLA coffee caps are a lost battle.

They’re too expensive, they’re not the most sustainable options, market penetration is too small and they won’t end up composted anyway.

Big companies may try to squeeze PLA caps in the market … but is it really worth it?

Check the documentary:


Published on

Le Grand format : que deviennent les millions de dosettes de café que nous utilisons ?