10. Apr 2024

Turn-key compostable coffee pod solution

Turn-key compostable coffee pod solution

NatureWorks (Plymouth, MN,USA), a leading manufacturer of polylactic acid (PLA) biopolymers made from renewable resources, has optimized a compostable coffee pod solution compatible with Keurig® brewers for the North American market.

Made possible by a multi-year partnership with IMA Coffee (Bologna, Italy), global market leader in the manufacturing of coffee handling, processing, and packaging technologies, this market-leading solution delivers high quality brewing performance, can be produced at commercial speeds matching incumbents, and is made from compostable, biobased materials. The partnership between NatureWorks and IMA Coffee began in April 2021 with accelerated testing announced in February of 2022. IMA Coffee and NatureWorks presented on this new coffee pods solution at the AMI Single-Serve Capsules conference held from March 19–20 in Boston, MA.

By combining NatureWorks’ expertise in processing Ingeo️ PLA biopolymer with IMA Coffee’s proficiency in the manufacturing of processing and packaging technologies, the partnership developed a simpler compostable coffee pod solution and supply chain. For the rigid capsule body, NatureWorks was able to combine non-compounded, highly crystalline, and heat resistant Ingeo PLA grades with a refined single-stage thermoforming process to achieve production rates comparable to incumbent polypropylene (PP) capsules. The rigid thermoformed capsule was then combined with a nonwoven filter and multilayer top lidding solution also made with Ingeo. The use of one primary material through all three components of a coffee pod is more cost effective and offers greater consistency when heat sealing the components together, thus preserving the taste and aroma of the enclosed coffee.

IMA Coffee Lab validated the new solution conducting compatibility testing on the rigid capsules, filter, and top lidding films. The sophisticated microleakage detection testing performed at IMA Coffee Lab helped identify and achieve the optimal material sealing parameters and limits for the compostable components to ensure reliable performance when brewing pods. IMA was also able to define the suitable set up of IMA packaging machineries to handle the assembly, filling, and sealing of the pods successfully at commercial line speeds.

“This solution removes the burden from brands and roasters who are looking for a compostable pod with a long shelf life that preserves the taste and aroma of the coffee”, said Flavio Di Marcotullio, Strategic Marketing Manager, Single Serve Beverages, at NatureWorks. “These Ingeo pods provide a reliable brewing experience for consumers, can be produced at commercial speeds, and do not sacrifice expected performance for sustainability”.

“Over the past few years, IMA's approach to sustainability has led to the design and adaptation of packaging technologies to effectively handle compostable materials. The collaboration between NatureWorks and IMA, bolstered by IMA OPENLab, the Group’s network of technological laboratories and testing facilities, laid the groundwork for a new market-ready coffee pod”, said Alessandro Nobili, Head of Product and Project Management at IMA Coffee, Packaging Division. “Multiple studies and tests on the new compostable material and its performance throughout the packaging process have led to the proper configuration of IMA's coffee pod filling and sealing machines, enabling them to handle the rigid capsule, filter, and multi-layered top lid made of Ingeo PLA biopolymer with high precision. This will facilitate the easy setup of new production lines, thereby offering a turnkey compostable and sustainable solution at high production speeds, ensuring high-quality brewing”.

A recently published study by Wageningen University & Research concluded that compostable coffee pods made with Ingeo️ biopolymer are the most sustainable option when considering both greenhouse emissions and material circularity, which included considering the fate of used coffee grounds inside the pods. By weight, 90 % of a coffee pod consists of the valuable coffee grounds contained inside. Compostable packaging ensures it is simple for consumers to help divert those remaining organics away from landfills as organic waste in landfills contributes to the 3rd largest source of methane emissions in the U.S. Instead, diverting compostable pods to industrial composting ensure both the used coffee grounds and the packaging are composted helping create a valuable soil amendment that improves soil quality and biodiversity. Ingeo PLA biopolymer is certified for industrial compostability by the Biodegradable Products Institute and DIN CERTCO.

The two companies hope that this partnership and turn-key solution initiates a complete supply chain, bringing biobased, compostable solutions to coffee roasters and brands throughout the region. AT


Privacy policy notice

This website uses external components, such as Fonts, maps, videos or analysis tools that can all be used to collect data about your behavior. Privacy policy