Canadian Plastics

NatureWorks and IMA partner to advance the compostable coffee pods market

Canadian Plastics   

Packaging Plastics Processes Sustainability

The multi-year partnership is designed to accelerate the availability of a turn-key solution for K-Cup compatible compostable coffee pods in North America.

A K-Cup made with Ingeo PLA. Photo Credit: NatureWorks/IMA

Biopolymer maker NatureWorks, which supplies Ingeo PLA, is partnering with Italy-based IMA Coffee in a bid to accelerate the market for K-Cup compatible compostable single-serve coffee pods in North America.

According to the two companies, the multi-year partnership is in response to what they describe as “pressure on the single-serve coffee market to make more meaningful progress towards a more sustainable packaging solution”.

“Consumers appreciate single-serve capsules for the convenient and quality brewing experience but see the packaging waste associated with a capsule as a detriment,” they said. “Compostable capsules create the opportunity to not only address consumer concerns and divert the packaging away from landfills, but, perhaps more importantly, to recover the used coffee grounds, enabling their processing at a compost facility where they deliver valuable nutrients to the final compost.”

Coffee capsules are complex structures where the capsule body, lidding, and filter must be precisely designed to deliver a consistently high-quality brewing experience. “Before the capsules even reach consumers, it’s critical that these components perform well during assembly and filling as well as on the shelf and during brewing,” the companies said. “By bringing together NatureWorks’ materials and applications knowledge with IMA’s machinery expertise, the partnership aims to deliver a turn-key compostable coffee pod solution to the entire coffee industry making it simple to have a great cup of coffee and dispose of the used pod in the most sustainable way possible.”


NatureWorks is headquartered in Minnetonka, Minn., and IMA is based out of Bologna, Italy.

The partnership is the latest in IMA’s bid to direct the production chain towards increasing environmental sustainability. In 2019, the firm launched the IMA NOP (No-Plastic Program) to promote eco-friendly plastic substitutes for the packages manufactured on IMA machines, and has also established its so-called “Open Lab”, where material technologists study, develop, and test compostable and recyclable materials to be used on IMA’s packaging equipment.”


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