The Aussie business challenging the linear economy model, one reusable coffee pod at a time

Meet Kayla Mossuto, Co-Founder of the OG refillable coffee pod company in Australia - Crema Joe

Earth Collective’s ‘Interviews with the Collective’ series is a collection of interviews with likeminded souls from around the globe, who are working towards a better future for the planet and people in it. This week, we hear from Kayla Mossuto, Co-Founder of refillable coffee pod company, Crema Joe, and Melbourne social business and community hub Precious Plastic Melbourne

What was your catalyst to diving into the world of sustainability?

As a self-confessed coffee lover, I was shocked to realise how much impact my caffeine habit was having on the environment.

A regular coffee pod machine user, my husband Piers and I were astounded to learn that our daily cuppa contributed to an estimated six million coffee pods that go into landfill in Australia each day.

We decided there was no way we were going to keep on contributing to such a disastrous problem, but we didn’t want to throw out our coffee machine, because that would’ve been wasteful too.

After searching for an eco-friendly solution, we realised there was a need for good sustainable alternatives and education for pod machine owners. My husband and I began extensive research and product testing mid-2014.

Six months later, Crema Joe was born — a passion project that set out to provide eco-conscious capsule users with an array of environmentally-friendly reusable alternatives.

Six million coffee pods go into landfill in Australia each day.

Tell us about your business journey so far – what got you to where you are today with Crema Joe?

Conceived out of a genuine desire to reduce single-use coffee pod consumption and the need to educate others about “reusing over recycling”, Crema Joe has become the go-to for thousands of eco-conscious Australians who are looking to satisfy their caffeine habit — without the guilt.

We’re doing this because we have a real passion for the planet, and I think this really resonates with our customers. 

We’ve watched as consumers become more aware of the issue of single-use coffee pods — people are actively looking for reusable alternatives, which has resulted in a strong organic growth for our business as individuals rethink their single-use product consumption. Our number one priority is to reduce single-use pod consumption, however as we’ve grown we’ve also put a strong focus on making the business more sustainable in all aspects.

You recently founded Precious Plastic Melbourne. What was the inspiration and motivation behind that?

We believe there is an urgent need to change this linear economic model, whereby we extract materials to make products and then dispose of them, often after a single use. The global movement towards a circular economy encourages the continual re-use of resources to reduce emissions and protect our environment. 

Piers Mossuto stands with his bicycle, preparing to open the doors to Precious Plastic Melbourne.
Kayla and her husband Piers are on a mission to turn waste into useful products. Image: Precious Plastic Melbourne

As the OG refillable coffee pod company in Australia, our goal is to reshape the capsule coffee landscape – we are experts in our field, and we’re doing everything we can to break down barriers and help consumers make the switch from disposable to reusable.

Unfortunately, the sustainability space isn’t regulated, with so many businesses and brands making a plethora of wild claims. So in 2018, as part of our ongoing mantra to create better things in a truly better way we were looking for a local, responsible manufacturing solution for Crema Joe when we were introduced to the Precious Plastic concept. Fast forward to 2021, and we have a whole new social enterprise – Precious Plastic Melbourne (PPM). 

PPM is a social enterprise and our recycling hub, where we’re working with like-minded people to create a circular economy through better outcomes for traditionally ‘non-recyclable’ plastics. Not only do we have some exciting new products in the pipeline for Crema Joe, we’re also working within our community to assist individuals and organisations to set up their own plastic recycling workspaces.

What has been your proudest business achievement to date?

The launch of our 100% recycled Perfect Press. This little product took three years of researching, tinkering and development – we believe it’s quite revolutionary, as a product that completely closes the loop.

To help combat the problem of landfill and ocean waste, each Perfect Press is produced by hand and made entirely of locally sourced, reclaimed plastic bottle tops. Essentially, each Perfect Press is part of a circular economy where waste is reduced, as this precious ‘resource’ or ‘commodity’ of single-use plastic is given a new life.

Handcrafted in Melbourne, the formation of the eco-friendly Perfect Press really is a labour of love – we’ve always been passionate about reducing our environmental footprint and finding solutions to plastic pollution. This is what drove us to create a product that is both useful for our amazing reusable capsule community whilst actively converting what was initially destined to be waste into something fresh, new and highly functional.

Nothing makes us happier than knowing that each Perfect Press is diverting 25 plastic bottle caps from landfill! 

What do you think is the biggest threat to our planet and the people in it today?

Climate denial. The climate crisis is urgent – the world of finance and business desperately need to catch up with the science.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Usually my five year old. Aside from that – impact. Everything we do is designed or actioned with purpose, amid the excessive consumption and consumerism, we strive to propel real, positive social change.

Who/what has been the biggest influence in your life?

Aside from recognising that there was a lack of good sustainable alternatives for coffee pod machine owners, the second driver that led me to launch Crema Joe was my son – we’re determined to leave the world a better place for our children, and children’s children. 

What book(s) are you reading and/or podcasts are you listening to right now?

I’m currently listening to a fairly recently launched podcast, HOW TO SAVE A PLANET (by Gimlet Media).

What does the word ‘community’ mean to you?

Community is so important! We’ve been quite a community-focused business from the get go. We work with our local community to reduce waste by encouraging a circular economy. Part and parcel of an e-commerce business is packing products to send via post or courier – to minimise the impact of this, we collect and reuse used packaging materials (that may have otherwise ended up in the bin) for shipping products to customers, rescuing them from landfill. 

What are your five top tips for people who are working to reduce waste in their lives?

  1. A little more climate related rather than waste, but this is a small thing you can do that can contributor to a greater impact – send a letter to your local MP!  Impactful legislative change is key to our future!
  2. Don’t bin your food waste!! Compost it, or, check out ShareWaste.
  3. RedCycle your soft plastics – it’s easy to do, and will reduce the amount of waste in your landfill bin.
  4. Opt for pre-loved wherever possible. This is actually a big one, and I think people need to start speaking about this more – whether it be normalising re-gifting, or being an active member of your local Buy Nothing group.
  5. Steer clear of greenwash. Be sure to do your research and read the fine print e.g. degradable, biodegradable and compostable aren’t necessarily environmentally friendly solutions.

Where are you heading to next in your journey?

Over the course of 2021, we’re diving headfirst into plastic recycling! Adopting sustainable practices in manufacturing is vital for our economy, as well as for our eco-system. It’s why we are passionate about continually exploring ways to reduce waste and promote a circular economy in our personal and business lives – while also educating others to do the same. We’ve begun offering services such as manufacturing and tool making, to open up opportunities for smaller-scale, lower-budget projects. It means that families, schools and hobbyists can start to create new products out of their plastic waste and make an impact on an individual level.

Kayla Mossuto, Co-founder of Crema Joe, wears a white top and black trousers, and sits on a wooden staircase, smiling at the cameraKayla Mossuto is the Co-Founder of the OG refillable coffee pod company in Australia – Crema Joe

Kayla Mossuto is a mother and caffeine lover on a mission to leave the world a better place for future generations via her Melbourne-based businesses Crema Joe (specialists in helping consumers to reduce waste with their reusable coffee pods) and Precious Plastic Melbourne (a micro plastic recycling factory paving the way for sustainability in Aussie manufacturing with a new product made from 100% recycled plastic waste materials).

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Charli Ferrand

Charli wrote her first novel at the tender age of 9, then dabbled in the idea of becoming a professional ballerina for a few years, before returning to her love of writing, acquiring a BA (Hons) in Journalism, Film & Broadcast from Cardiff University in the UK. A three-month holiday in Australia turned into a 11 year residency, during which Charli cemented her career in PR & Marketing Communications working with some of the biggest brands in the world. She also gained her citizenship, discovered her passion for sustainability and eventually ended up coming full circle, combining her professional skills with her love of the planet and oceans into her role as Editor-in-Chief of Earth Collective. A trained journalist, experienced communications professional and qualified Mental Health First Aider, Charli has her finger on the pulse of the latest political and environmental developments around the world. You can find her writing about current affairs, political activism and mental health.

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