In a push to green-up the city, Hamburg has banned all state-run buildings from using single-use coffee pods. The decision is just one of the new initiatives from the second largest city in Germany to move towards an environmentally friendly future.
The problem with these little pods of caffeine is the packaging. First up, there's a lot of it: "It's 6g of coffee in 3g of packaging," says Jan Dube, a spokesman for the Hamburg Department of the Environment and Energy, according to the BBC. "We in Hamburg thought that these shouldn't be bought with taxpayers' money."
But even without of the massive amount of packaging, they’re incredibly hard to process at recycling plants. They’re usually made of plastic and aluminum (along with a remaining trickle of coffee sludge) – all of which has to be properly separated before they can be recycled.
Over 2 billion cups of coffee are drunk every day. Within this massive market for coffee, an increasing number of Europeans are turning to the convenience of single-use pods. According to consumer goods website The Grocer, the next five years could see the sales of the pods go up to $700 million a year and begin to outsell teabags.
People will still be able to use the coffee machines in their home and businesses, as the ban will only be in effect in government-owned buildings, such as parliaments, governmental admin offices, hospitals and other public services. However, the city of Hamburg hopes that this small move can be part of a wider tide of eco-friendly changes.
Jens Kerstan, Hamburg's senator for the environment, said: "With a purchasing power of several hundred millions of euros per annum, the city can help ensure that environmentally harmful products are purchased less frequently."