THERE is something very special happening in the Shoalhaven that is making the world a better, cleaner place.
The only coffee pod recycling plant in the Southern Hemisphere is quietly working away at the Sell & Parker recycling plant in Nowra.
The plant recycles tonnes of Nespresso coffee pods each month and it’s only growing.
The pods are shipped to the West Nowra site from all around Australia.
The machine has been running for just over a year, recycling its first batch of pods in January 2013.
The machine itself is an engineering marvel, designed on a napkin by members of the Parker family when they were out for dinner one night.
It shreds the pods, then separates the large pieces from the small. The small pieces then go into a huge magnetised container which picks up all the smaller pieces of aluminium.
‘Nespresso has sold an estimated 28 billion capsules worldwide – that’s about 28 million kilograms of aluminum, much of which may be sitting in landfill.’
While the machine runs once a week, the lead-up and preparation is probably the most time-consuming part of the process.
Many hours of unpacking and sorting is involved in the lead-up to the pods going on their final journey into the recycling machine.
The goal is that 100 per cent of the pod gets recycled, from the aluminium to the coffee grounds and even the bags that they are sent in.
The company uses local companies for plastic and paper recycling and the coffee grounds also go to a local company to be used as compost.
Once the aluminium is separated from the coffee grounds it is compressed and recycled along with other aluminium products.
While Australia still lags behind other countries in terms of pod recycling the amount has surpassed expectations.
Greg Stuckey, the operator of the machine, has earned the nickname of the Coffee Guru.
“People would have to see it working to actually believe it,” Mr Stuckey said.
“It’s amazing to see how much we can actually recycle from it.”