Initial filling tests at IMA COFFEE Lab on K-Cup compatible compostable coffee pods based on NatureWorks’ low-carbon Ingeo™ PLA biopolymers accelerate based on promising results
The partnership between IMA and NatureWorks will accelerate the availability of a turn-key solution for K-Cup compatible compostable coffee pods in North America. (Photo: Business Wire)
BOLOGNA, Italy & PLYMOUTH, Minn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Announced back last April 27th, 2021, NatureWorks and IMA Coffee’s joint strategic partnership accelerates on the first significant trial phase on K-Cup compatible compostable coffee pods.
Compatibility testing on capsules, filter, and top lid films are being performed at IMA Coffee Lab with the precise aim to identify and achieve optimum material sealing parameters and limits as well as a suitable set up of IMA packaging machineries to handle the pods successfully.
Tests are carried out under the supervision of IMA Coffee R&D team and in close and constant co-operation with NatureWorks specialists: dedicated tools are used to simulate filter and top lid films sealing phases and adjust parameters according to testing results.
The sophisticated microleakage detection testing performed at IMA Coffee Lab has given more than encouraging and optimistic results allowing a significant step forward in the process that will proceed thoroughly towards the following coffee extraction testing phase.
At NatureWorks, development of new single-stage thermoforming processes and capsule designs continues to produce precise capsules that meet IMA’s specifications for filling and sealing on their packaging machines.
NatureWorks has also constructed a custom Data Acquisition System for K-Cup compatible pods that is being used to understand and benchmark how differing capsule designs perform under various brewing conditions.
“With the promising results we’ve seen so far, we have already begun the next phase of development by partnering with converters in North America to bring these new compostable pod designs to commercial scale making them available to brands and roasters seeking to meet consumer demands for more sustainable packaging and to circular economy directives that specify compostable packaging as a key enabler of recovering food waste for compost,” said Flavio Di Marcotullio, Global Industry Manager, Single Serve Beverages, for NatureWorks.
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 reach consumers, it’s critical that these components perform well during assembly and filling as well as on the shelf and during brewing. 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.
With this in mind, to give greater impetus to the topic and direct the production chain towards increasing environmental sustainability, in 2019 IMA launched IMA NoP – No Plastic Program. “NOP (No-Plastic Program) means we promote eco-friendly plastic substitutes for the packages manufactured on IMA machines. Through the research and testing of alternative processes and materials, together with customers, material suppliers and partners, we foster plastic-free and sustainable, compostable packaging solutions. IMA has also established the Open Lab where Material Technologists study, develop, and test compostable and recyclable materials to be used on our packaging equipment,” says Nicola Panzani, IMA Coffee Sales Manager and IMA Coffee Petroncini CEO.
NatureWorks and IMA will share more about the latest innovations in single-serve compostable coffee capsules as well as developments from the partnership at AMI’s Single-Serve Capsules Global Virtual Summit from March 29-31, 2022.