The term came with a lot of conditions. In order for the supposedly recyclable capsules to be recycled, they either need to be taken apart, washed out and dried at home before being thrown away or processed industrially at specially equipped plants. The R-word, understandably, can confuse consumers into throwing their capsules straight from their coffee machine into the recycling bin, contaminating the waste and meaning the whole bag ends up in landfill.
Recognising this, some brands then transitioned into using biodegradable materials, but there is still very little clarity on how to dispose of these after use. Although a lot better than other options, some of them still need to be sent off to be industrially composted in order to live up to their sustainable claims.