Coffee pod greenwashing comes to America with Illy and Terracycle

© Illy coffee pod

This looks like some high-tech device or appliance that serves an important purpose; in fact, it is a disposable coffee pod made by Illy and imported from Italy, for the convenience of people who apparently don't have the time or skill to boil water and punch down a french press coffee maker. This complex polypropylene device then gets thrown away, which makes people feel bad, especially around Earth Day, and that's a problem for the pod people peddling these things.

So instead of taking the season to promote less wasteful ways of making coffee that don't involve disposable chunks of plastic, Illy is introducing what they call a coffee capsule recycling program called Renew.

Illy/Screen capture

What you do after you have used your little plastic disposable coffee machine is drive it to the store where there is a designated receptacle. Then they ship it possibly halfway across the country to Terracycle, who does not actually recycle it; that would mean that it actually was made into a disposable coffee pod. Instead it is downcycled into " beneficial products such as park benches, pavers and composite lumber", as is all the other surplus plastic in America. The used coffee, having been shipped as well, is turned into the most well-travelled compost in the country.

© Illy

Terracycle CEO and TreeHugger contributor Tom Szaky thinks this is wonderful.

“Illy has made sustainability one of its four pillars and I’m thrilled they are taking that commitment one step further,” said TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky. “Since so many people drink coffee every day, it’s extremely important to consider the environmental impact of that daily cup and make a difference wherever you can.”

Bialetti/Promo image

Indeed it is, Tom. When sensible people think about the environmental impact of that daily cup, they don't buy pods that are made from fossil fuels, used once, shipped around the country and downcycled into low grade last resort uses. If they want a hit of Illy they might stick it in a Bialetti or a french press and then put the coffee grounds in their own garden.

This is the worst kind of phoney feel-good environmental marketing, designed for the sole purpose of assuaging the guilt about consuming overpriced and unnecessary crap. They should be ashamed.

Tags: Coffee | Recycling

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