In April 2021, we were delighted to announce our partnership with Podback, the UK's pod recycling service. We’ve always cared about our environment just as much as we do about our coffee, so to say we were thrilled to be the first independent coffee company to partner with Podback to offer our customers an easy, free and uncomplicated way to recycle would be an understatement.
Sharing our commitment and dedication to recycling and reducing waste, we caught up with Rick Hindley, the Executive Director of Podback. Check out what he had to say below:
What is your current role and involvement within the programme?
"I am the Executive Director of Podback. As part of this, I am responsible for the strategic direction of the scheme which involves working with local authorities, retailers and coffee brands to build partnerships and expand Podback to ensure recycling coffee pods is as easy as possible."
To someone that hasn't heard of Podback, please outline in a few sentences what Podback is?
"Podback is the UK’s first cross-industry coffee pod recycling scheme, bringing together the biggest brands in the sector to improve the recycling process.
Podback aims to make it possible for all coffee pod users in the UK to recycle their pods through the one simple scheme, no matter which coffee brand they drink.
Pods can be recycled through two routes: Collect+ delivered by Yodel where consumers can take their Podback recycling bags, filled with used coffee pods, to their nearest drop-off point. The second route is through kerbside collection, residents of Cheltenham Borough Council, South Derbyshire District Council, Chichester District Council, Oxford City Council and Ipswich Borough Council can have their used pods collected alongside other household waste and recycling.
Since its launch in 2021, the scheme has expanded and now covers Nespresso, Nescafé Gusto, Starbucks by Nespresso, Starbucks by Nescafé Dolce Gusto, Tassimo, L’OR, CRU Kafe, Artisan Coffee Co, Allpress Espresso, Colonna Coffee and Café Palmieri by Jomad Coffee."
Talk about your move from Alupro and what drove you to take this role, especially as Podback is the first of its kind?
"I loved my time at Alupro, working with people and companies from across the aluminium packaging industry to improve recycling in the sector. However, after 14 years leading the group, I decided it was time for a new challenge and was excited by the opportunity that Podback offered.
It was a big change to join a new project from an industry-leading organisation and adjusting from working with hundreds of people every day to being Podback’s only full-time employee. But, I was drawn by the opportunity to shape the Podback scheme and implementing a solution for this previously hard-to-recycle product.
Podback has offered a unique blend of being a start-up that is supported by the industry’s biggest brands, giving me the chance to outline its direction and build the scheme, but also draw on a wide pool of talent and experience to support me along the way."
What have been some of the biggest hurdles to overcome within the launch of the programme?
"Two key challenges that we have had to overcome have been engrained consumer behaviour around recycling and COVID-19.
The first challenge – consumer behaviour – is one we always knew would be tricky. Changing consumers’ behaviours to recycle previously un-recyclable products is hard. We can’t expect consumers to shift their habits overnight, as we have seen with the slow – but progressive - uptick in the recycling rates of aluminium cans over the last 12 years.
Secondly, COVID-19 has impacted Podback in many ways – as it has for businesses all over. With the pandemic, priorities have shifted for businesses, local authorities and retailers and we have had to adapt and change to ensure Podback is priority for them."
What is the mission of the programme?
"Eventually, Podback’s mission is ensuring every coffee pod enjoyed, is recycled. As Podback is less than a year into this journey, there is still some way to go before this is achieved.
In the short term, we are working every day to expand Podback’s reach; engaging with coffee brands to incorporate their pods into the scheme and working with local authorities to increase the number that offer coffee pod collection from the kerbside."
Where do you see Podback in 10 years?
"In less than a year since we launched the scheme, we have already received great uptake from consumers. Hopefully, in the next ten years, this growth will continue and the scheme will make it easier for more and more people to recycle their coffee pods through a single system.
I would love to see Podback set an example in terms of Extended Producer Responsibility, where a solution for a hard to recycle product has been implemented and funded by the producers. "