NatureWorks and IMA Announce Turn-Key Compostable Coffee Pod Solution Compatible for North America

NatureWorks, a leading manufacturer of polylactic acid (PLA) biopolymers, has developed a compostable coffee pod solution compatible with Keurig® brewers for the North American market. The partnership between NatureWorks and IMA Coffee, a global market leader in coffee handling, processing, and packaging technologies, began in April 2021 and was announced in February 2022. This market-leading solution delivers high quality brewing performance, can be produced at commercial speeds matching incumbent materials, and is made from compostable, biobased materials.

The partnership between NatureWorks and IMA Coffee began in April 2021 and was further validated in February 2022. The rigid capsule body, filter, and lidding made from Ingeo™ PLA biopolymer were combined with a nonwoven filter and multi-layer top lidding solution also made with Ingeo. The use of one primary material through all three components of a coffee pod is more cost-effective and offers greater consistency when heat sealing the components together, thus preserving the taste and aroma of the enclosed coffee.

IMA Coffee Lab validated the new solution by conducting compatibility testing on the rigid capsules, filter, and top lidding films. The sophisticated microleakage detection testing performed at IMA Coffee Lab helped identify and achieve the optimal material sealing parameters and limits for the compostable components to ensure reliable performance when brewing pods. IMA was also able to define the suitable set up of IMA packaging machineries to handle the assembly, filling, and sealing of the pods successfully at commercial line speeds.

This solution removes the burden from brands and roasters looking for a compostable pod with a long shelf life that preserves the taste and aroma of the coffee. It provides a reliable brewing experience for consumers, can be produced at commercial speeds, and does not sacrifice expected performance for sustainability. A recent study by Wageningen University & Research concluded that compostable coffee pods made with Ingeo™ biopolymer are the most sustainable option when considering both greenhouse emissions and material circularity. Compostable packaging ensures that both the used coffee grounds and the packaging are composted, creating a valuable soil amendment that improves soil quality and biodiversity. Ingeo PLA biopolymer is certified for industrial compostability by the Biodegradable Products Institute and DIN CERTCO.

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