Ever wondered what happens to your Nespresso coffee capsules after you’ve handed them over to be recycled? The answer is: lots of different things.

The used-coffee grounds are a rich source of energy and can be repurposed into nutrient-rich fertiliser or used to create clean energy in the form of biogas. The aluminium casings are crushed, melted down and reused to make everyday objects like pens, bicycle frames, computers and many other objects.

But if you’re based in Malaysia, you’ll get a chance to see an even more novel way of giving Nespresso capsules a second life.



The renowned Malaysian contemporary artist Red Hong Yi has taken 24,000 used capsules to create her latest piece of work, Kaleidoscope. The artwork is displayed inside the Nespresso Boutique in The Gardens Mall, Kuala Lumpur, and is made up of seven mirrored panels made out of the aluminium material. Red’s expert craftmanship and precision means each capsule is perfectly angled to create a kaleidoscope effect. The mirrors project infinite reflections of the colourful pods, highlighting the infinite nature of the recyclability of aluminium.

And you won’t miss the artwork; the installation is 1.4 metres high and weighs 70 kilograms.



The collaboration, part of Nespresso’s ‘Doing is Everything’ commitment, aims to raise awareness of the need to protect the environment by recycling used capsules – and that every individual has a role to play in creating a positive impact in the world. Red says that creating her latest piece is timely given the current environmental challenges facing the world. “Seeing how the whole world responded to the current pandemic shows that if we feel a sense of urgency towards an important issue, we are able to work together to address them,” she says.

It’s the reason she decided to work on the project – to spread a very important message to encourage the public to take action. “We each play a role in making a difference for our planet, and through small improvements in our everyday actions we are certainly one step closer towards sustainability.”




Nespresso continues to make it easier for people to take the “small actions” Red mentions. Since 2014, the company has invested more than CHF 185 million in its recycling programs around the world. In Malaysia, for example, you can drop off your capsules at the boutiques in The Gardens Mall or One Utama Shopping Centre. You can also use the Recycling@Home option, available in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan. Here, you simply fill up the supplied recycling bag with your capsules and hand them to the courier upon the delivery of your next order, who will return them to Nespresso.

In Singapore, which also has art installations on display at Nespresso Boutiques at ION Orchard, Takashimaya, Raffles City and VivoCity, there are also plenty of options for local recycling. Here, you can drop your used capsules at a number of retailers, including Best Denki, Courts, Harvey Norman, Parisilk, Tangs and BHG.


In 2020, the first coffee capsules made using 80% recycled aluminium hit the market as part of Nespresso’s efforts to close the loop on the pods and make them fully circular. By the end of 2021, Nespresso will ensure all its full Original coffee capsules are made using recycled aluminium. It has also focused on making sure the packaging used for new machines is made of 95% recycled material.

Recycling your used coffee capsules is now simpler than ever in many parts of the world, and as Red says, “taking action is everything”. “When you choose to live a more sustainable life, it really means a lot to our environment and everyone around us. Even if it’s just small actions, like recycling a capsule, it is still a step towards change.”

If you’re still looking for inspiration head to The Gardens Mall in Kuala Lumpur to see Red’s Kaleidoscope which is on display until 30 May.