AFR article - " Former cricketer Ed Cowan pitches biodegradable coffee pods with his firm Tripod

AFR article - " Former cricketer Ed Cowan pitches biodegradable coffee pods with his firm Tripod

Former Australian cricketer Ed Cowan has taken a different tack to the big producers when it comes to reducing the environmental impact of coffee capsules - his local coffee company has a compostable and biodegradable pod.

It's the latest development in the backlash against the environmental impact of the pods, which last year prompted Nespresso to partner with Australia Post to beef up its capsule recycling program, giving customers the opportunity to return capsules to more drop-off points.

Cowan, who started coffee capsule company Tripod Coffee three years ago and has sold more than 1 million capsules in the  past two years, says his pods - which are imported from Belgium - will dissolve after 90 days in a commercial compost environment.

Australians consume more than 3 million coffee pods each day, estimates Tripod. Biodegradable options are on the market, but Cowan says compostable products are far easier to break down in the commercial recycling system and, over time, the pods will break down naturally in landfill.

"This is why we started, basically - we were sick of buying capsules knowing the environmental impact," he said, noting Tripod is the country's first certified compostable coffee capsule.

"Even with a recycling program for aluminium pods you have to shred the aluminum, rinse the coffee out, re-smelt the aluminium... it's ridiculous."

Councils lack composters

Planet Ark head of campaigns Brad Gray says there is a growing trend towards biodegradable and compostable pods, but points out that not all councils have commercial composting facilities.

"There is an awareness with some people within the industry who want to look at less impactful alternatives for the environment," he said. "Compostable presents something of an answer to that.

"The issue with them is that unless they go into a commercial composter they don't compost... most councils don't have a commercial composter."

Mr Gray said the most damaging pods were those that were plastic, or a combination of aluminium and plastic, which he said included Aldi's brand of capsules.

Globally, the coffee capsule market is estimated to be worth $17 billion. In 2015, Nespresso, a coffee business within Nestle, controlled 83 per cent of the fresh ground coffee capsule market, according to market researcher Euromonitor International.

In Australia, Lavazza is the second biggest coffee brand behind Vittoria and is sold in Woolworths, Coles, Metcash and Costco supermarkets. In 2015, Lavazza bought back the Australian business from the Valmorbida family, which introduced the brand to Australians in the 1970s.

Tripod sources beans worldwide, and roasts and packs them in Sydney.