Halo eyes European expansion with 100% compostable coffee pods: ‘Ours is a totally natural product’

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Halo Coffee enters new markets with its 100% compostable coffee pod / Pic: Halo Coffee
Halo Coffee enters new markets with its 100% compostable coffee pod / Pic: Halo Coffee

Related tags Coffee Plastics Recycling Sustainability

UK start-up Halo Coffee is preparing to expand into continental Europe with its compostable coffee pods that are produced from a by-product of sugar cane processing. The company believes that this offers an important point of difference that will help empower consumers to tackle a pain point in the plastics problem.

Almost 60bn coffee pods are produced annually and the global market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 7.72%. However, only around 29% of coffee pods are currently recycled properly.

“The majority of capsules are not recycled properly due to insufficient and un-easy to reach recycling centres plus a lack of understanding by the consumer of which bin can take which type of capsule without contaminating the stream,”​ Halo Coffee co-founder David Foster explained, noting that stream contamination is when a recycling stream is compromised.

That’s where Halo Coffee steps in. Since 2017, the company has aimed to ‘make the world’s best coffee’ in ‘a way that’s best for the world’. The company’s overriding principle is that metal and plastic coffee capsules can no longer be sustained by the plant.

“Halo's solution is to provide an easy recyclable alternative compared to companies that produce these capsules in their billions while putting the process of getting the capsules back to them on the customer to do it,”​ Foster told FoodNavigator.

A coffee pod that’s 100% compostable and carbon neutral

Declining to share too many details on the R&D process that developed the coffee pods, which he described as a ‘real challenge’, Foster revealed they are made from sugar cane bagasse, a waste material from the sugar cane industry.

Halo Coffee 1
Halo's coffee pod breaks down completely in around four weeks / Pic: Halo Coffee

Halo believes it has an industry leading approach to pod composability. “Dependent on the temperatures of the compost [it takes the pods] as little as four weeks to disappear completely. Other industrially compostable capsules use some form of PLA in their capsule makeup, we don't, ours is totally natural product,”​ Foster explained.

“In terms of maintaining freshness and quality, our bio laminate is an air-tight seal around the box that keeps the product fresh as it is sealed directly after encapsulation.”

As a result, all of Halo’s products are 100% compostable and carbon neutral. The company’s offering includes Halo’s Three mountain bespoke blend​, made up of coffee from ‘three of the highest peaks in the world; its Ristretto​ with Colombian Huila, Brazilian Mogiana and El Salvadoran Monte Sión coffees; and Lungo​, which is an equal blend of Brazilian Mogiana, Sumatran Bener Meriah, and Vietnamese Robusta from the central highlands.

The company sources its premium grade coffee from farms that operate to its sustainable sourcing standards, Foster continued. “We try our best to source our coffees from ethically run farms and smaller individual farmers through our suppliers. We will not purchase from farms where slave or child labour is used, we only choose farms where fair and equitable wages are paid and we have also tried as best we can to cut out the middlemen where profits to the farmers are lost,”​ the coffee expert – who sits on the British Coffee Association sustainability committee –noted.

European growth: ‘Streams become rivers, which soon become vast oceans’

At the end of last year Halo began a crowdfunding journey with Seedrs and has since exceeded its initial campaign target of raising £300,000. The purpose of the fundraise was to accelerate growth – and the cash has been used to fuel Halo’s latest expansion with the launch of Halo Coffee Germany, which will serve the German, Austrian and Swiss regions.

“The launch in Germany et al is apposite due to these countries having forward-thinking and eco-conscious populations who are already used to making a change in their impact on the world by the products they demand and purchase. Less education of the buying public in these countries is required to encourage a change in behaviour even if the product costs a little more at this time,”​ Foster told us.

GettyImages-Farnknot_Architect coffee
Halo sees growing demand for environmentally friendly coffee / Pic: GettyImages-Farnknot_Architect

He noted that Halo has seen a big increase in ethically conscious consumers, particularly over the past year when European shoppers have been shaken by the experience of the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 lockdowns.

“We have seen exponential growth in consumer demand for, and in the interest in, green products. This year has shown people that we cannot simply carry on living as we were, that change can happen out of the blue with huge consequences for living today and the future. Companies like Halo, that are making the difficult decisions to be ahead of the curve today in order to protect the future, are the ones who will be in a better position for long term survival,”​ he asserted.

Halo – which has sales in 70 countries and a following of 30,000 – hopes that this consumer evolution will prove a boon not only for the company and its ‘truly environmental and harmless’ coffee capsule but also for sustainable consumption at large.

“As more governments and businesses come to realise that the future requires change, and populations and consumers demand that change, markets will become far easier to penetrate. It may only be a stream at this moment but streams become rivers which soon become vast oceans. That is what we at Halo truly hope for, not just for us as a company but for the benefit of all.”

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