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Ingeo PLA-Based Coffee Capsules Pass EU Standard for Disintegration in Composting

NatureWorks teamed up with Flo and CIC to conduct field trail that shows compostability of PLA coffees capsules—used and unused.

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NatureWorks, Italian food packaging producer Flo Spa., and the Italian Composting and Biogas Association (CIC) teamed up to conduct a composting field trial with Ingeo PLA-based GEA coffee capsules in an industrial composting facility. Their aim was to evaluate the compostability of the capsules  over an 83-day time period.

Ingeo-based GEA capsules from Flo designed to be compatible with A Modo Mio brewing systems were filled with coffee, sealed, and either unused or used (brewed). CIC selected a composting facility treating the following types of waste: garden waste, plant tissue waste, waste bark and cork, and wood packaging.  Capsules were put into specially designed vented testing bags used for monitoring the disintegration process. The bags are filled with a mixture of 2/3 shredded green-waste and 1/3 compost, adding up to 1% by weight of the biopolymer to be tested.

A total of six bags were prepared – three containing unused coffee capsules and three containing used (brewed) coffee capsules. Capsules underwent 20 days of active composting where the bags were buried inside a static, aerated compost windrow, operated at 65°C (149°F) for 10 days and then at 60°C (140°F) for another 10 days. Moisture levels were maintained at 46%. These bags then cured for 65-70 days in windrows maintained between 50-55°C (122-131°F).

Bags were recovered from the windrows (both active and curing) at regular intervals to monitor the disintegration process. After a total of 83 days, all bags were removed, emptied, and the contents were manually sorted to detect visible, non-degraded coffee capsules. Both the unused and brewed capsules showed a disintegration rate between 98 and 100%, which is fully compliant with the EU standard EN13432 for compostable.

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