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Capsule collection in BeNeLux

Interview with Kris Veirier d'Aiguebonne, Nespresso Technical & Quality Director, BeNeLux

  Capsules      Environment      Recycling    

“The green vibes we get are very motivating”

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have worked in various positions for Nespresso since 1997, when I started as a coffee specialist in Brussels. Ten years later, I became Technical & Quality Director for Belgium, Luxembourg and The Netherlands (BNL). Recycling is definitely one of my top priorities and since 2008, I have been working on implementing and increasing our recycling routes and capacity.

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

In BNL, our capsules are not accepted in the Green Dot system. This means there is no domestic waste solution for our customers. The management of domestic waste is taken care of by the local authorities, meaning that it can be different from one place to another in the same country. Having investigated the waste management structure on a national level in Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands, it became clear that we had to go forward with our own collection systems.

We sent out a survey to 6000 of our customers asking their views on recycling capsules and opinions about the best routes for collecting used capsules. The results were very positive: more than 80% of customers found the collection initiative very appealing and they gave us a clear indication that they were willing to participate in the program.

Thanks to this customer feedback, we designed four dedicated routes. The first is boutiques, where customers can return their capsules at any time to any of our boutiques. The second is Kiala, or drop off points, where customers ordering via our courier service can send back used capsules in a special recycling bag. Third is the doorstep route, where customers can return capsules to the courier who delivers a new order. The fourth is the “green park” route, which enables customers to take used capsules to container parks for collection.

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

Since the initial phase of our plans for collecting used capsules, there has been a lot more activity. In October 2009 we started working with Dusseldorp NL, a Dutch waste management company specialising in collecting and treating non-organic waste. They became our partner for capsule collection in Nespresso boutiques. By March 2010 all of our thirteen boutiques and concession boutiques were equipped with a recycling unit for used capsules, which are then collected by Dusseldorp.

In May 2010 we launched the Kiala route, in which all customers can return their capsules to 550 Kiala drop off points in Belgium and Luxembourg. Club Members simply order a recycling bag with their coffee order and locate the nearest Kiala point through Nesclub, the Ecolaboration website or on the phone. After only four weeks, more than 25,000 bags have already been ordered. These activities have increased our collection capacity to 72% in Luxemburg, 63% in Belgium and 51% in The Netherlands. With our local recycling project group, which we set up in 2008 to bring together people from different departments, we are now focusing on our next milestone: the doorstep route…

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?

In September 2010, in collaboration with our two logistics partners DPD (BELUX) and TNT (NL), we are launching a new system that will enable Club Members to simply return their used capsules to the courier when a new order is delivered. Once this new initiative has launched, we will have achieved 100% capacity for the BNL market.

We are also investigating the possibility of developing a new recycling treatment for used capsules located in BNL. Until now, Dusseldorp has an agreement with another company, Barec based in Switzerland, to treat our capsules, which means that currently all used capsules are sent back to Switzerland for processing. Since April this year, I have also been working on a local solution for the capsule treatment, which involves the separation and recycling of both coffee and aluminium.

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

Of course the “green vibes” we get thanks to this project are very motivating. Working on this project and learning constantly about the impact on our environment makes you aware of the importance of going beyond capsule recycling, whether it is in the office or at home. In the Nespresso office, we kicked off the “WIT” group: the Waste Impact Team. This group is constantly looking for actions to improve our environmental impact in our company - recycling our own capsules is an absolute must in the office but also at home too.

My own attitude at home has certainly changed! I changed all the light bulbs for LED lights, switched my electricity provider to green electricity and implemented night and day electricity consumption so I can do my laundry at night, we separate waste more than ever and I am not happy when one of my family members (or work colleagues) throws a can in the wrong bin!

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