Aluminum/ Plastic/ Compostable Coffee Capsules – What Are the Differences?

Compostable coffee capsules

With coffee consumption growing at such a fast pace, it’s no wonder that the variety of coffee pods on the market has similarly grown. Aluminum, plastic and compostable coffee capsules are readily available and there are many types and models to choose from. But how do you know the differences between the different types and what to prefer?


Coffee capsules are a popular way to make coffee at home. They are convenient, easy to use and available everywhere. But what is the difference between aluminum, plastic and compostable coffee capsules?

Nowadays, aluminum coffee capsules are the most common type of capsule on the market. In the past few years, Switzerland has been the world hub in aluminum coffee capsules production, controlling over 90 percent of the market. Around 70 percent of the empty coffee capsules market is based in Europe, with Germany and Italy leading in the production of plastic capsules.

Plastic coffee capsules have been around for a while, but lately they have not been as popular as aluminum ones because they cannot be recycled. Over the years, the demand for plastic capsules has been in decline, and their production volume is now much lower than ever before.

Recently, some companies have started producing compostable capsules that can be broken down into compost after use. Compostable coffee capsules are made from plant-based materials like corn starch and sugar cane pulp instead of plastics or metals so that they can break down into compost after use.

The main difference between aluminum, plastic and compostable coffee capsules are their level of recyclability, as can be seen in the following table:

Comparing Coffee Capsules by Material

Material Recyclability
Plastic Most facilities will not recycle them.
Aluminum Most are recyclable.
Compostable   100% compostable, some break down in as little as 5 weeks


As demonstrated in the table above, the main differences when comparing coffee pods of different materials are their levels of recyclability and cost. Let’s take a deeper dive into each of these materials to see how they differ when it comes to these topics.

Plastic Coffee Capsules

Plastic coffee capsules are the most popular coffee pod currently on the market when it comes to volumes sold. Most large manufacturers use plastic to make their coffee capsules because they are cheap and easy to make – this results in quick production times, high profits and ultimately a more successful product.

Unfortunately, plastic capsules don’t tend to be recyclable, and if they are most facilities cannot recycle them as they are too small to be processed or they are not cleaned efficiently enough by the consumer. There is quite a bit of work to make them recyclable, which is why most people that purchase these coffee capsules don’t tend to bother.

There are also many arguments surrounding the impact plastic coffee capsules can have on your health.  Studies show that plastic coffee pods can contribute to hormone imbalance, weight gain and fertility problems – issues that may have significant consequences to our health.

Compostable Coffee Capsules

Compostable coffee capsules are truly 100% compostable. This makes them super easy to dispose of as you can put them on your compost pile. There are currently no known health issues with the consumption of compostable coffee capsules, as they don’t contain potentially hazardous materials. However, these capsules have some significant disadvantages, primarily the fact that they are not airtight, and therefore cannot keep the coffee inside them as fresh as capsules made from plastic and aluminum. They can dissolve and break down when meeting water or moisture, which means that in tropical or other warm climates they are far from ideal to use. If you accidentally let a drop of water come near them, it may mean that they have become unusable and developed mold, or that the coffee inside them may be undrinkable. Compostable coffee capsules also don’t come as cheap as plastic coffee capsules, for example.

Aluminum Coffee Capsules

Aluminum coffee capsules are the most popular non-plastic coffee pods available to consumers and coffee brand companies. If you look at the overall picture, it’s easy to understand why.

Aluminum coffee capsules are better than plastic when it comes to recyclability, which makes them a great choice for those who want a more environmentally friendly option, but still want their coffee to stay fresh and not lose its flavor. Aluminum coffee capsules keep coffee fresh and flavorful because they have an airtight seal and body that does not let air or moisture meet the ground coffee inside them. They are much sturdier and durable than compostable coffee capsules, and therefore can be easily kept in storage and shipped anywhere around the world.

So what is the best type of coffee capsules?

If you’re a coffee brand owner, you would probably want to cater to your clients’ desire to consume products that are environmentally friendly. However, you’ll also have to consider some other considerations, such as the quality of coffee you provide to your clients, their preferences and needs. If you’re aiming for 100% satisfaction from them and for getting the most positive reviews for your brand, these may be more readily available to you if you choose to package your coffee in aluminum capsules, for all the advantages we already mentioned.


To summarize our journey on the road to finding out the differences between plastic, aluminum and compostable coffee pods, it’s clear that they all have their positive and negative sides. While plastic coffee pods are cheap, they have a large carbon footprint and can cause health issues. Compostable coffee pods are easily recyclable and middle-of-the-road price-wise, but cannot keep your coffee as fresh and safe as aluminum capsules. Aluminum coffee capsules not only have much less of an impact on our environment and are recyclable, but are also the best in keeping your coffee fresh for much longer.





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