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XOMA’s Compostable Packaging

Composting is as old as, well, dirt. Compost was known to the Greeks and Romans and there are plenty of references to the cultivation of the soil in the Bible. Composting has come a long way since then, but the idea that natural processes can provide sustainable solutions to modern problems is a lesson that still rings true, especially today.

Every year, over 40 billion petroleum-based single-serve coffee pods end up in landfills around the world, where they take over a thousand years to break down. Many plastics depend on UV and infrared light from the sun to break them down, a process called “photodegradation” — but with new layers constantly being added to municipal waste-sites, plastics rarely see the light of day.

So when NEXE Innovations went looking for a way to tackle the huge environmental impact created by single-use, petroleum-based plastic coffee pods, composting stood out as a tried and true method. The trick would be finding a material that could decompose through normal composting methods, but was also durable enough to handle the heat and pressure created in an espresso machine.

Enter the NEXE pod, a plant-based capsule that is fully compostable and meets international standards for certification as compostable materials. Scientific trials have shown that the pod can break down in as little as 10 weeks and that the NEXE pods had no negative effects on the quality of the resulting compost.

NEXE has received significant support from the Government of Canada, which has committed to banning single-use plastics and is encouraging innovators to develop alternatives. Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., recently announced a new $1-million investment to NEXE, as part of the second phase of a Bioplastics Challenge aimed at helping small businesses reduce pollution by turning forest-based residue into sustainable domestic plastic material.

This round of funding comes on the heels of a successful phase one, where NEXE developed a completely plant-based and compostable single-use coffee pod from bioplastic wood fibre. Phase two will see NEXE increase their manufacturing capacity and make other improvements. 

Xoma comes from the Greek word for soil, so a plant-based capsule that returns to the earth seems like the perfect way to get our product to the customer.