LIFE14 ENV/IT/000744

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Contact details:

Contact person: Cesare Rapparini
Tel: 390516017011
Fax: 39051530038
Email: fin@icaspa.it

Project description:


About 10 billion coffee capsules are sold worldwide each year (2010 estimate), generating 120 000 tonnes of waste, of which some 70 000 tonnes is generated in Europe. In Italy, 12 000 tonnes of capsules (plastic/aluminium and coffee grounds) are disposed of annually in landfills and incinerators. Capsules cannot be recycled at municipal facilities because they are composed of multiple materials.

The standard materials used in coffee capsules, such as polyethylene (PE), aluminium, ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), also give rise to environmental concerns because:

  • Production of PET and PE for coffee-capsule production uses 15 000 tonnes of non-renewable oil; and
  • PE, PET and aluminium downstream production related to coffee-capsule production generates more than 410 000 tonnes of emitted carbon dioxide.
  • The use of alternative solutions such as bio-based polymers has been investigated, but even the most promising, such as polylactic acid (PLA), cannot be used because of poor mechanical strength, thermal resistance and permeability.

    The University of Tor Vergata has developed a new PLA product with improved properties and used it to produce coffee capsules at the Aroma Company facilities. The results were promising, but the coffee capsule production process needs to be adapted to accommodate the new material, and the new PLA formulation needs to be fine-tuned.


    LIFE-PLA4COFFE project will demonstrate a new improved production process for coffee capsules based on PLA as a substitute for PE, PET and aluminium. The LIFE-PLA4COFFE compostable capsules will be marketed in Europe and USA, and the material will be applicable for many other plastic products.

    Specific objectives are to:

    • Scale-up the use of the new PLA material and the new coffee-capsule production process to demonstration scale;
    • Demonstrate how the prototype can be used for all plastic products;
    • Reduce the volume of waste (plastics, aluminium) sent to landfill; and
    • Demonstrate the use of the new PLA formulation capsules for composting, thus reducing fertiliser use.
    • Expected results: The new PLA-based formulation for the production of compostable coffee capsules will be adapted to demonstration scale and produced in a demonstration compounding plant. Injection and compression moulding technologies will be adapted to produce the PLA coffee capsules.

      The project will also test the performance of the PLA coffee capsules and, more broadly, will use the coffee capsule to demonstrate performance of the PLA formulation to the whole plastics industry and to consumers.

      Full industrial application of the new PLA bio-based material could enable:

    • Elimination of 70 000 tonnes of waste sent to landfill or incineration in Europe;
    • Saving of 15 000 tonnes of oil (or a 100% reduction in fossil-fuel feedstock) used in the coffee-capsule production process;
    • Avoidance of emissions of 405 000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent related to the use of PE, PET and aluminium in the coffee-capsule production process; and
    • Saving of 20 000 tonnes of bauxite and others dangerous pollutants used in the aluminium production process.



Environmental issues addressed:


Industry-Production - Plastic - Rubber -Tyre
Waste - Waste reduction - Raw material saving


resource conservation‚  waste reduction‚  plastic‚  life-cycle management

Target EU Legislation

  • Waste
  • Directive 1999/31 - Landfill of waste (26.04.1999)
  • Directive 2008/98 - Waste and repealing certain Directives (Waste Framework Directive) (19.11.200 ...
  • COM(2014)398 - "Towards a circular economy: a zero waste programme for Europe" (02.07.2014)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Aroma System S.r.l.
Type of organisation Large enterprise
Description The Aroma System Company produces packaging systems, in particular one-way degassing valves that moderate the pressure inside sealed flexible bags for recently roasted coffee.
Partners API(A.P.I. APPLICAZIONI PLASTICHE INDUSTRIALI S.p.A.), Italy CRDC(Centro Regionale Di Competenza Nuove Tecnologie per le Attività Produttive- Società consortile a responsabilità limitata (CRdC Tecnologie S.c.a.r.l)), Italy TOV(UNIVERSITA’ DEGLI STUDI DI ROMA “TOR VERGATA”), Italy


Project reference LIFE14 ENV/IT/000744
Duration 16-JUL-2015 to 15-JAN -2018
Total budget 2,502,695.00 €
EU contribution 1,501,610.00 €
Project location Veneto(Italia) Emilia-Romagna(Italia) Lazio(Italia) Campania(Italia)


Read more:

Leaflet Project's leaflet (1.52 MB)
Poster "Pla4coffee: The new generation capsules" (1.53 MB ...
Project web site Project's website


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version