Costa del Sol takes lead in aluminium coffee pod recycling with Urbaser and Arecafé partnership

AL Circle

The Mancomunidad Association of town halls in the western Costa del Sol has unveiled plans to recycle used coffee capsules, a growing environmental concern in recent years. Partnering with recycling company Urbaser and non-profit organisation Arecafé, the initiative aims to address the exponential increase in discarded coffee pods predominantly made of aluminium or plastic.

Costa del Sol takes lead in aluminium coffee pod recycling with Urbaser and Arecafé partnership


Mancomunidad president Manuel Cardeña highlighted the challenges posed by traditional recycling methods, noting the difficulty in detecting and processing small-sized coffee capsules within treatment plants. Often mistaken for general waste or plastic, these capsules end up in landfills, contradicting the European Union's ambitious waste reduction targets for 2035.

Innovative solutions for sustainable practices

Despite current manual recycling efforts, plans are underway to introduce an induction separator for the mechanical recovery of capsules. The facility is estimated to recycle approximately 170 kilos of capsules weekly, contributing to over eight tonnes annually.

Technical feasibility and environmental impact

Cardeña emphasised the technical feasibility of recycling coffee capsules, even when mixed with other waste. Through Arecafé's expertise, selectively recovered capsules are deemed treatable, with aluminium melted down for reuse and plastic repurposed into new materials. Additionally, coffee grounds are utilised for agricultural compost.

Empowering consumers for environmental change

Acknowledging the role of consumers in waste management, Cardeña stressed the importance of utilising specific collection points for recycling coffee capsules. However, recognising the reality of consumer behaviour, he hailed the partnership with Urbaser and Arecafé as a vital environmental solution.

Join the movement toward sustainability

With over 4,250 collection points nationwide, Arecafé's Circularcaps network facilitates the recycling process, ensuring used coffee capsules are repurposed efficiently. By supporting this initiative, individuals contribute to a circular economy, reducing environmental impact and promoting sustainable practices.

Aluminium: The cornerstone of sustainability

Aluminium stands as a beacon of sustainability in the recycling landscape. Its infinite recyclability, energy efficiency, and low carbon footprint make it a vital component in environmental conservation efforts. By recycling aluminium coffee pods, we not only minimise waste but also champion the use of this eco-friendly metal.

If you wish to learn more about such noble green initiatives, please have a look at AL Circle's specially curated report, Sustainability in the Global Aluminium Industry

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