Design Story of a Recycling App

Nespresso’s advertising for the newest product

Nespresso is owned by Nestlé, which is based in Switzerland. Nespresso machines brew espresso and coffee from aluminum pods that contain a single serving of ground coffee beans. The company sells its machines and capsules worldwide, (is especially popular in Europe and Central America) and is trying to grow its Nespresso enthusiasm in North America.

Brand/Company Background

  • Nespresso introduced the first single-serve coffee machine in 1986
  • 15 years ago, Nespresso arrived in the US.
  • By the year 2013 Nestle plans to source 80% of our coffee from the AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program
  • There are 10 total stores in New York state, 2 in Massachusetts, 2 in New Jersey
  • Nespresso can be found 64 countries, with 435 drop off sites.
iRecycle idea mapping

Week 1 Brainstorming

My group for Project 4 consisted of Paulo, Brian and I. When we were asked to pick a brand that connects to something we feel passionately about. We decided on social good. Many ideas were tossed around they all came back to recycling as a root problem. One example was using the company GT Dave’s Kombucha as our brand and creating an incentive based program around recycling.

  • Walmart is trying to become more sustainable
  • Target has always been sustainable
  • Connect large chain stores with small, local organic farmers in order to create reliable and consistent revenue for the small farmers.
  • iRecycle in Canada that makes outdoor furniture from milk cartons and hay
  • Incentives for recycling or donating reusables to artists to create materials for functional and artistic objects.

After many red lights and discussions we came to the idea of Nespresso and the waste that is created from their aluminum pods. Through discussions we found there are junk drawers in people’s homes that they cannot figure out how to get rid of such as batteries, light bulbs, and coffee pods.

Nespresso’s Social Network Presence

Take aways:

  • Nespresso has a huge fanbase that is dedicated to reusing the pods in creative ways and posting photos online
  • Users like to post coffee based recipes from cocktails to cakes
  • Users create art and DIY functional objects with the pods
Charts viewing the social network of Nespresso users

Art, Coffee Recipes and DIY

Product Research

A site visit led us to these findings and takeaways:

  • Nespresso has no incentives for people to recycle their pods
  • People can drop off their used pods at various stores plus UPS
  • Users can only buy pods at Nespresso store but the machines are sold at various stores including William Sonoma, Bed ,Bath and Beyond and etc.
  • The coffee is indeed delicious!

The good, the bad and the ugly: sustainability at Nespresso

“In the last few years, it has invested in reviving coffee production in war-weary South Sudan. That’s good.”

“But the company’s single-serve aluminum pods create unnecessary waste. A valuable, energy-intensive resource winds up in landfills. That’s bad.”

“Nespresso won’t say how how many of its pods get recycled. Transparency is an essential ingredient of sustainability. So that’s ugly.”

Screener Results

User Interviews (8)

“I don’t like the pods, coffee filters, a lot of plastic, that’s why I was never interested in using the keurig. I can find the brands I like. It’s so fast. I don’t have to boil water if I’m in a rush. I put them in the trash. The school I work at doesn’t have recycling.”

-28 yr female

“Nespresso has a very bland brand; purposeless brand. A lot of their clients are corporate, such a simple product, but it’d be helpful to post it as a coffee aficionado’s thing.” -29 yr, male

“Nespresso is not well-known as eco-friendly; do not promote recycling on website, no idea, even though I’ve given the capsules back.” -29 yr, male

“I use the Keurig and I’ve owned 2 Nespresso machines. Cappuccino is my favorite everyone likes it when I host. It’s like a desert, just add little bit of sugar. In the future I would be interested in recipes.” -65 yr, female

“I am a recycler but I assumed they weren’t recyclable. Advertise because I wasn’t aware.” — 65 year, female

“Pods? Not a believer of wasteful pods. If it was convenient and environmentally friendly I would be interested. I like how one person could have their own desired blend personalization and quick.” — 35 yr, male

Take aways:

During the interviews we observed users loved the product but mostly didn’t know they were recyclable. Most users have their Bacholers degree and many have their masters. Most are well educated people that care about the environment.

Affinity Mapping

Through affinity mapping we were confirmed on what we had believed to be the emotional/cultural/social impact Nespresso has on it’s users. The users don’t know where to find imformation about recycling and Nespresso’s sustainability efforts.

Problem statment

Initial Problem Statement: Nespresso needs to increase user-participation through social networking to incentivize users to engage one another by posting reviews, sharing barista recipes (techniques for “coffee-art”), inspiring users how to repurpose their pods, and providing a list of locations to drop-off pods for recycling.


First Iteration of App

Nespresso already has a strong worldwide cultural customer loyalty, including a conscientious sustainability infrastructure, which is a strong part of their brand. We are proposing an online members-only app/news-aggregator that brings together the Nespresso community through a social-networking forum which will include information spanning from where and how to recycle pods to user-sharing of recipes, pics, videos. The newsfeed will be a regularly updated feature directly from Nespresso to increase transparency about their efforts to becoming a standard-bearing 21st Century environmentally-conscious corporation

Comparison of 1st, 2nd and 3rd interations of app

Map app

Map App

Next Steps

While we worked on this app, we came up with some other interesting ideas on ways to mix Nespresso’s coffee culture and the social aspect of drinking coffee by creating an Air B & B type coffee experience. The idea is to have people that own Nespresso machines host travelers at their homes for just an hour in a day not a sleep over scenario. So travelers can learn from the hosts and have company while their travel and hosts can share their expertise of their home towns.

The app as it stands now still needs a little work. The text on the news articles will be made larger. Their will soon be the ability to upload recipes, DIY ideas and art images so users can participate more in the online experience. Also, there will be more functionality with the recycling page such as finding stores near you and finding the variety of possible delivery options available for recycling pods. In the future it would be great to connect the website to the app in terms of users being able to get a free recycling bag with their orders of pods as well as having an incentives program in place where users can get a free box of Nespresso pods for every 50 or so pods they recycle.

Final Takeaways

This was probably the hardest project so far in General Assembly. The hardest part was choosing an idea from scratch. My team wanted to create an app focused on social good but along the way got too invested in recycling as our product. Through this project I realized the line between physical and digital design and how to navigate around it. By choosing a physical product, it can be extremely complicated to work around. We kept getting stuck on how people or companies would keep track of the amount of recycling one does. In that we realized we couldn’t implement the incentives program until we figured it out. If I were to redo the project I would have encouraged my team to choose a less physical product and process.