Home » Environment » Compostable Coffee Pods: Sustainability in Every Cup

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois

Senior Director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab & Professor in the Faculty of Agriculture, Dalhousie University

Solange Ackrill

Solange Ackrill

Vice President of Marketing & Corporate Strategy, Club Coffee

Nicole Fisher

Head of Sustainability, KraftHeinz Canada

Dr. Calvin Lakhan

Professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

The convenient options aren’t always the eco-friendly ones — but what if your coffee could be? This Canadian-made, plant-based single-use coffee pod diverts waste from landfills and reduces carbon impact.

Canadians love their coffee and especially the convenience of single-serve coffee pods. But consumers are increasingly concerned about the impacts of the plastic used to make traditional pods.

Enter the 100 percent compostable coffee pod. Toronto-based Club Coffee worked with University of Guelph researchers to develop PurPod100™ in 2016. Since then, Canadians have enjoyed more than a billion cups of delicious coffee in these compostable pods, while reducing their environmental footprint.

The pod replaces traditional petroleum-based plastics with plant-based materials similar to cornstarch as well as actual coffee bean skins.

“Canadians want solutions. They’re thinking more about what goes into a product and how it’s being disposed of,” says Solange Ackrill, Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Strategy at Club Coffee, a major roaster and partner to brands like President’s Choice and Maxwell House.

Consumers want sustainable solutions

Ackrill says the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of innovative materials like the compostable ones in the pods.

“Consumers know there’s a role for packaging — to protect our food and for health and safety, especially with COVID-19. But they want environmentally-sustainable solutions too,” says Ackrill. “If anything, they’re going to be more mindful to try and do something better.”

Nicole Fischer, Head of Sustainability at Kraft Heinz Canada, thinks so too. In August, Kraft Heinz Canada — one of Club Coffee’s major brand partners — started using 100 percent compostable pods in its Maxwell House coffee. The launch is part of the company’s global commitment to make 100 percent of its packaging recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025.

“We’re working to reduce single-use plastics and to divert food waste from landfills,” says Fischer. “As Canada’s largest food company, Kraft Heinz Canada has a significant role to play in educating consumers on sustainability and how they can reduce their environmental impact and in providing sustainable packaging to help them do so.”

The pod replaces traditional petroleum-based plastics with plant-based materials similar to cornstarch as well as actual coffee bean skins.

Canadians are looking for green packaging

Canadians certainly want alternatives. According to a Dalhousie University study, 93 percent of respondents said they were motivated to reduce single-use plastic food packaging because of its environmental impacts and half said they intend to increase food purchases with green packaging. Consumers are also increasingly concerned about the health impact of chemicals and microplastics.

“Canadians are seeing that the current path isn’t necessarily sustainable and more companies are looking to replace plastics,” says Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, Director of Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab. “The key is convenience. If you compromise convenience, you’re going to lose the customer. That’s why compostable products have merit. They don’t require a lot of work.”

Compostable: designed for simplicity and sustainability

The compostable coffee pod is designed for disposal in one simple step to keep food waste out of landfills. Dr. Calvin Lakhan, a researcher in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University, points out that to recycle a plastic pod, coffee drinkers have to separate a foil lid, paper filter, and wet coffee grounds.

“The energy and resources used to produce compostable pods are less than one-tenth of those used to make a plastic pod,” says Dr. Lakhan. “Compostable products really are a game changer, and not just for coffee pods. They have the potential to help solve other single-use plastic problems.”

Plant-Based Coffee Pods: A Zero-Waste Solution to Single-Serve Plastic

Consumers want to cut plastic waste with convenient, effective solutions. A switch to plant-based compostable coffee pods delivers that kind of zero-waste solution. It’s a circular economy innovation that cuts what we send to landfills by adding to the healthy compost that enriches the soil we all depend on.


Renewable materials from plants like corn and coffee beans are the heart of compostable coffee pods.


Using 100 million compostable coffee pods to replace plastic ones is like taking the greenhouse gas emissions from more than 250 cars out of our air every year.


Compostable coffee pods can break down in as few as five weeks in large composting facilities, while a typical plastic pod will be in a landfill for more than 400 years.

CN Tower

Every 100 million coffee pods that Canadians use would be the same height as more than 5,000 CN Towers if you could stack them on top of each other.

1 Billion Pod Impact

# of CN Towers
54,000 CN towers

Distance from Toronto to Ottawa
91.52 trips


Distance Around Earth
0.92 trips around Earth


Plastic Savings
0.25 kg plastic per

Next article