• Nespresso might seem convenient, but is it worth it? Hamburg, Germany doesn't think so. (Nespresso)Source: Nespresso
Hamburg is saying "no" to coffee pods in government-run buildings, citing pollution and waste.
Shami Sivasubramanian

24 Feb 2016 - 2:59 PM  UPDATED 24 Feb 2016 - 5:04 PM

The German city of Hamburg has banned coffee pods from government-run buildings in an attempt to be more environmentally conscious.

The announcement was made by Hamburg’s Department of the Environment and Energy late last week.

“These portion packs cause unnecessary resource consumption and waste generation, and often contain polluting aluminium,” said Jan Dube from the Hamburg Department of the Environment and Energy to German press.

For every six grams of coffee, each pod has three grams of packaging on average, said Ms Dube.

Coffee pods, which have grown in popularity over the years for their convenience, have made their way into landfills, contributing to the city's waste production.

Many companies that manufacture coffee pods - such as Nespresso and Nestle's Dulce Gusto - pride themselves on being made of recyclable materials.

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However, like with bottled water whose plastic packaging is also made from recyclable materials, these pods are seldom recycled properly. 

In addition, the materials present in these pods are tricky to extract and recycle. Many pods are made from a mixture of aluminium and plastic which is difficult to separate, though their separation is integral to the proper recycling of these capsules.

Nespresso, which is most popular in Europe, has also gone further to combat the problem by partnering with consumer waste recycling firm TerraCycle, to better ensure its pods are disposed of in an environmentally-sensitive fashion.

Meanwhile the popular US coffee pod maker Keurig is one brand that does not create recyclable pods, though they are aiming to change that within the next five years.

On their website, the company has promised to make all "K-Cups" (what Keurig calls their coffee pods) recyclable by 2020.

No more coffee capsules for Hamburg. (Giphy)

"It's a very complex challenge ... the pods must keep coffee fresh before brewing, withstand the heat and pressure during brewing, and be easily punctured with a needle as part of the brewing process," reads the FAQ's section on Keurig's website.

Hamburg senator Jens Kerstan told CNN Money said by banning coffee pods he hopes the city can do its part to combat climate change.

"The city can help ensure that environmentally harmful products are purchased less frequently and that sustainable products achieve even greater acceptance in the market. Our objective is to increase the share of environmentally friendly products significantly in order to help combat climate change," he said.

Other products being banned under this new initiative by the city include plastic cutlery, bottled water, beer bottles, soft drink cans, certain cleaning products, and wall paints.

Hamburg is Germany's second-largest city after Berlin.

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