Starbucks has partnered with Podback to collect used Starbucks At Home coffee pods from drop-off points or at kerbside, recycling them into beverage cans, supermarket crates, and more.

In 2019, the Starbucks At Home range was launched across grocery stores and online retailers, allowing consumers to brew their own Starbucks coffee. Yet, as an estimated 800 million coffee pods were purchased in the UK last year, the need for accessible pod recycling options is growing.

The companies have therefore built upon their existing partnership by expanding into Starbucks’ UK retail operations – a move hoped to help develop more sustainable practices.

Consumers can now fill a bag with used coffee pods at home, and then take them to one of 6,500 Yodel drop-off points across the UK. Podback says that all postage to return pods is free of charge.

Alternatively, the company claims to collect pods from kerbside as part of household waste and recycling services. This is said to apply to 1.5 million households in 21 local authorities.

The collected coffee pods are reportedly recycled in the UK via Podback’s reprocessing partners. While aluminium pods are used to manufacture beverage cans and other new products, plastic pods are integrated into supermarket crates, building products, and more.

The used coffee grounds undergo anaerobic digestion, producing both biogas and soil improver.

“With Starbucks UK customers already using Podback to recycle our pods at home, we are delighted to offer them an easier way to pick up their bags from our outlets,” said Jacqui Wetherly, UK Director of Sustainability at Starbucks UK. “We are committed to our continued journey of reducing the environmental impact of all of our coffee products, from the beans to the milks we use and the way it is served. This partnership is another step towards making this possible.”

Rick Hindley, executive director at Podback, continued: “Partnering with one of the world’s best-known coffee brands is a sign of the considerable progress that Podback has made towards establishing a convenient and simple way for people to recycle used pods. Starbucks’ support makes it even easier for coffee pod users to start recycling, as they can now pick up a Podback bag at any of Starbucks’ coffee shops across the UK.”

Podback was created by Nestlé and Jacobs Douwe Egberts UK back in 2020 and the scheme was launched in April 2021. Since then, coffee pods in the Starbucks by Nespresso and Starbucks by Nescafe Dolce Gusto ranges have been accepted by Podback.

In 2022, Podback worked with Pret A Manger to recycle its at-home coffee pods into such products as beverage cans through drop-off points or kerbside collection.

Morrisons and Podback have also trialled collection points for coffee machine pods in 29 of its stores. The move was hoped to provide consumers with a simple and convenient drop-off service for their used pods.

By the end of last year, Podback believed that over one million UK households could recycle used coffee pods at kerbside via its recycling scheme. As of October 2023, the London Borough of Havering becoming its latest partner, while East Ayrshire was its first partner in Scotland.

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