Cheltenham’s coffee pod recycling is a nationwide first!

George Clooney endorses them and three in ten homes now have them - what are they? The answer is coffee making machines using aluminium or plastic capsules, or “pods”.

As a result, millions of pods are now going into domestic refuse. Potentially these could be recycled, for example into aluminium cans or plastic garden furniture.

Cheltenham Borough Council has recently become the first local authority in the country to sign up to a partnership with Podback - an industry-sponsored recycling company for coffee capsules.

The way the scheme works is that users sign up on either the borough council or Podback webpages and are then sent special bags which, when filled, are picked up at the kerbside by our refuse vehicles as part of weekly collections. Podback takes the capsules to its recycling centres in the north of England (none go abroad) for reuse. The coffee grounds are “rebrewed” into biofuel and soil improvers.

The scheme is cost neutral for the council - in other words it will cost the taxpayer nothing.

As the new cabinet member for recycling and waste, I met the Chief Executive of Podback at the Swindon Road recycling centre last week to show him how we have brought coffee pod recycling into our waste processes (look out for the council’s social media for a video of the visit).

This pioneering recycling partnership is an example of how, through small and large steps, Cheltenham aims to be at the forefront of tackling the challenge of climate change. Towards this end, expect more news shortly on green waste - and also on making our waste and recycling vehicles “greener” (and more efficient).

Recent analysis shows that Cheltenham’s recycling rate is already improving steadily (it rose above 50% some time ago). But we can, and will, do even better. The five top local authorities - four of which, incidentally, are Liberal Democrat - are now achieving around 64%.

Just as Cheltenham Town FC has competed hard and successfully to move up a league, so will Cheltenham’s recycling efforts – thanks to initiatives just like Podback.

- Councillor Iain Dobie, Cabinet member for the Waste, Recycling and Street Services

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