U of G Innovation, Compostable Coffee Pods Featured at Legislature

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 University of Guelph innovation that led to the creation of the world’s first compostable coffee pods was front and centre at the Ontario Legislature today.

A proposed provincial bill would require all single-use coffee pods sold in Ontario to be certified as compostable. The bill’s sponsor, Norm Miller, MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka, showcased compostable pods created with U of G technology during a press conference today before the bill’s introduction. Read/watch Global TV’s coverage of the story.

Made almost entirely from plant materials and reclaimed coffee bean skins, the pods are compatible with most Keurig brewing systems.

Speaking at the press conference, Rene Van Acker, dean of the Ontario Agricultural College, called the coffee pods “a great example of the University of Guelph putting knowledge into action.”

“This is a real-life challenge, and one that is affecting countries around the world,” Van Acker said. “It’s been said that the amount of single-serve pods sent to landfills each year could have circled the Earth 13 times.”

Numerous Canadian cities are studying ways to reduce the number of pods that wind up in trash bins, Van Acker said.  The U of G-influenced pods go straight from the brewer to a green compost bin.

“Not only are these pods helping address issues of environmental sustainability, but they also help reduce dependence on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

(l-r) Doug Burns, CEO Muskoka Roastery; Norm Miller, MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka; Claudio Gemmiti, chief innovation officer, Club Coffee; and Rene Van Acker, OAC dean

U of G’s Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre (BDDC), which helped develop the pods, uses renewable agricultural products as alternatives to petroleum-based sources to make products ranging from coffee pods to car parts to storage bins.

The Toronto-based coffee roaster Club Coffee created the pods with assistance from BDDC. In 2015, the Biodegradable Products Institute, the largest independent certification organization for compostable products in North America, certified the pods 100-percent-compostable. Club Coffee was the first manufacturer to earn the certification.

The pods became available in Canada in 2016 when Loblaw Companies Ltd. launched President’s Choice single-serve coffee pods that are certified 100-per-cent compostable.

A U of G team led by BDDC director Amar Mohanty developed a key component: the ring that holds the pod in place in a coffee brewer. Competitive Green Technologies based in Leamington, Ont., made the resin for the pod’s ring.

Development of the coffee pods was supported by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; the University’s partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science; the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario; the Canada Foundation for Innovation; U of G alumni; and private partners including BMO Financial Group.