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Capsule collection in Austria

Interview with Richard Paulus, Nespresso Technical & Quality Director, Austria

  Capsules      Environment      Recycling    

“We are introducing a collection and recycling system from scratch”

Tell us a little about yourself.

Having a technical education as well as a master degree in Economics, my background is in the chemical industry. I've held various technical and commercial positions like Plant Manager and Head of Marketing. In the Summer of 2009, I started with Nespresso as Technical & Quality Director. Actually, I am the first “Technical & Quality Director” at Nespresso Austria, so I had to and am still putting the systems in place for my area of responsibility.

Please tell us about the recycling infrastructure in Austria and the implications for how Club Members can recycle used capsules.

As in most other European countries, the Nespresso capsule is not considered as packaging. Therefore the capsule cannot be recycled via the national collection and recycling system ("Green dot"). This means Nespresso had to set up our own recycling systems from scratch. We started our recycling system in 2009 in our Boutiques, so Club Members could bring back their used capsules. Today we operate about 700 recycling collection points across the country. Beside our Nespresso Boutiques, the customers can bring their used capsules at many trade partners of Nespresso and many local authorities offer also the opportunity to return Nespresso capsules. All capsules are collected by our partner the ARA AG, which is the national system for collecting and recycling packaging waste, and then brought to a plant where the capsules are separated into the coffee grounds and the aluminum. The grounds will then be composted and the aluminum is sent to aluminum mills for re-melting. Obviously, by using ARA as our recycling partner, we can benefit from their logistics operation and overall know-how.

Have you undertaken any specific initiatives to increase Nespresso’s capacity to collect used capsules? If so, please tell us about them.

We do a lot of customer information. Beside our Boutiques and the CRC, where we can tell the customer about the possibility for recycling, we use also other opportunities. In the very beginning we organised a press conference together with Nespresso Germany to talk about our recycling program. Nowadays we get a lot of media attention whenever we open a new recycling collection point within a local area. In 2010, the first local design competition by Nespresso SUSTAIN.ABILITY.DESIGN took place during Vienna Design Week, the most well-known design festival in Austria. Young designers were invited to submit ideas on urbanity, lifestyle and recycled aluminium. The winning projects were exhibited in our Nespresso Boutique in Vienna.

Nespresso has an objective to put collection systems in place to triple the collection capacity to recycle used capsules to 75% by 2013. What are your plans to help ensure this objective is achieved?

Starting in January 2011, we will increase the number of collection points across the country. Besides Nespresso boutiques, we’re looking at locating collection points in communcal facilities and petrol stations. In general we are going to support the global capacity target by introducing a collection and recycling system from scratch in the region. As a matter of fact, the capsule quantities that are returned are increasing significantly from month to month! In 2010 we collected about 9 times more than in the first six month in 2009.

Does your work on recycling for Nespresso affect your own personal attitude to recycling in the home?

I would like to say it is more the opposite way. I am very engaged in environmental issues. I already separated my waste as far as possible before joining Nespresso; for example all biological waste is composted in my own garden. When I joined Nespresso I was very keen to work on a recycling project for Nespresso Austria. And of course working on environmental issues nearly every day means I'm even more engaged in my personal life!

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