Podback: reflections on year one

Last week marked one year since we formally announced the creation of Podback and its aim to transform the way that we recycle coffee pods in the UK.

Since then, we have hit several important milestones – from the scheme going live to consumers in April; bringing on-board new members, such as independent coffee brand CruKafe; and expanding the ways in which consumers can access recycling bags for our Collect+ service, initially through a partnership with Ocado.

One of our main priorities during this time has been bringing kerbside collections to more people across the UK, by expanding our partnerships with local authorities. We know from our own research that there is demand for a kerbside mechanism, with 90% of coffee pod consumers telling us they’d like to be able to recycle their used pods alongside their household recycling.

Since launching the service with our first partners - Cheltenham Borough Council and South Derbyshire District Council - we have worked closely with the teams at Oxford City Council and Chichester District Council to design a model that works for them and successfully introduced the service in their localities. This means that the service is now available to almost 500,000 residents.

We have since had ongoing positive discussions with waste and recycling officers and council leaders from across the country - including at the recent LARAC’s Conference in Birmingham and LARAC Wales and Scotland, which I was pleased to attend along with colleagues.

Next year looks set to be even busier than the last. Not only for Podback but for the wider recycling and waste landscape too, with the Government due to publish its final proposals for its packaging Extended Producer Responsibility reforms early next year.

Podback is an early example of Extended Producer Responsibility in action. It enables councils to divert valuable resources from residual waste, increase recycling rates, and offer residents an extra recycling stream. Crucially, it is cost neutral for authorities, meaning all additional costs are covered by the scheme.

While the exact timings may change, at present, we expect to implement kerbside collections in at least six more local authority areas before the end of March. This is all thanks to the collaborative approach and dedication of the officers and leaders at these councils, all of whom share our ambition of making it as easy and convenient as possible for people to recycle their coffee pods.

I’m encouraged by the progress we’ve made so far and excited about what is to come as we look ahead to 2022. If you would be interested in learning more about Podback or starting a conversation about partnership, please contact myself and the wider team at LApartners@podback.org.