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Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Coffee Capsule Recycling Process and Its Composites Reinforced with Natural Fibers


The present research aims to propose a comparative life cycle assessment (LCA) between the coffee capsules recycling process and the process of obtaining composites with coffee capsule outer packaging reinforced with 5 and 10% m/m of sugarcane bagasse fibers to evaluate the environmental impacts of each approach. The impact categories taken into consideration were: global warming, stratospheric ozone depletion, ozone formation, acidification and eutrophication, terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecotoxicity, human carcinogenic toxicity, and human non-carcinogenic toxicity. The LCA of these materials show that obtaining composites process have favorable results in terms of environmental impacts compared to the recycling process of a coffee capsule in all impact categories. The values of acidification and eutrophication for the obtaining composites process were due to fertilizers’ use to cultivate sugarcane bagasse used to obtain the composite. The contribution analysis showed that the increase of fiber content decreases the amount of coffee capsule outer packaging necessary to acquire the composite and, consequently, reduces the environmental impacts caused by the process. GHG emissions indicated that the recycling process of coffee capsule residues has a higher CO2 eq emission. It was possible to observe that all analyses showed that the environmental performance of the process of obtaining composites of coffee capsule residues reinforced with sugarcane bagasse leads to a more sustainable approach when compared with the process of recycling coffee capsules, which is a sustainable alternative for recycling polymeric materials.

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Data Availability

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Code Availability

The code used by author during the current study is available in the software SimaPro 9.1.1.


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This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior—Brasil (CAPES)—Finance Code 001. The authors express gratitude to Thermal Analysis RJ Professor Ivo Giolito Laboratory and Leni Leite Rheology Laboratory, School of Chemistry/UFRJ- Brazil.

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Authors and Affiliations



APSS: conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis, investigation, writing—original draft, visualization. MGM: resources, writing—review & editing, supervision, project administration. CGM: resources, writing—review & editing, supervision, project administration.

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Correspondence to Ana Paula S. Soares.

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Soares, A.P.S., Mothé, C.G. & Mothé, M.G. Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Coffee Capsule Recycling Process and Its Composites Reinforced with Natural Fibers. J Polym Environ 30, 1380–1390 (2022).

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  • Coffee capsule
  • Recycling
  • Sugarcane bagasse
  • Composite
  • Life cycle assessment