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Customer upset after opening box of 'compostable' coffee pods: 'It's infuriating and it seems like nobody cares'

"The customer doesn't see it."

"The customer doesn't see it."

Photo Credit: iStock

A recent Reddit post has sparked discussion about a brand's confusing packaging choice that seems to contradict its own sustainability claims.

The Redditor shared a photo of "100% compostable pods" manufactured by the brand PurPod, noting that each pod is individually wrapped in noncompostable plastic.

"The customer doesn't see it."
Photo Credit: Reddit

What's happening?

The image, posted in the r/MildlyInfuriating community, shows a PurPod-branded cardboard box with the prominent claim of "100% compostable pods."

However, when you look closer, every single compostable pod inside the box is encased in its own plastic wrapper.

Commenters were quick to point out the apparent contradiction.

"The thing that gets me is that while this is bad, you should see how much plastic and packing materials the things you buy come in to the store in before the boxes are separated out and put on the shelf," one Redditor lamented.

"It's infuriating and it seems like nobody cares because the customer doesn't see it." 

Why is this packaging choice concerning?

On the surface, compostable coffee pods seem like an eco-friendly alternative to the billions of conventional plastic pods that have ended up in landfills, according to The Story of Stuff project. Compostable materials can break down into nutrient-rich soil with the right conditions.

However, potential environmental benefits are negated if the compostable item comes wrapped in conventional plastic.

Not only does the plastic wrapper prevent the pod itself from composting (if it's never opened), but it also creates additional plastic waste.

Confused consumers might try to compost the pod without removing the plastic, contaminating their compost bin. Or, they may give up and throw the whole pod in the trash.

Either way, the outcome is more plastic pollution.

Is PurPod doing anything about this?

PurPod clarifies that the individual pods' wrapper is not always compostable and should not be considered as such.

"Unless it is marked 'certified commercially compostable,' the freshness wrapping should be disposed of with regular waste," PurPod states on its website.

"The freshness [plastic] wrapping on pods marked 'certified commercially compostable' meets or exceeds an internationally recognized standard," PurPod continues. "Some food waste collection and composting programs automatically accept items that are certified commercially compostable by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) and/or the Compost Manufacturing Alliance (CMA)."

While this context helps explain the post (which is also a couple of years old), it still highlights the importance of brands avoiding mixed sustainability messages that can confuse or frustrate eco-conscious consumers.

What's being done about plastic overpackaging more broadly?

Innovative companies are exploring plastic-free alternatives for products and packaging. Some use plant-derived compostable films or paper-based wrapping.

On a larger scale, policies like extended producer responsibility laws and single-use plastic bans incentivize corporations to rethink their relationship with plastic. Individuals can make an impact by supporting sustainable brands, avoiding over-packaged products, and advocating for change.

Ensuring that eco-friendly items are packaged sustainably is an essential step in tackling our global plastic pollution crisis. After all, most of us want guilt-free coffee, not "100% compostable" pods drowning in plastic.

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