Nespresso and Rio Tinto have announced that they are collaborating to produce green coffee pods.

Coffee icon Nespresso has sealed a groundbreaking deal for its coffee capsules to be produced by miner Rio Tinto using “responsibly sourced” aluminum by 2020.

The two companies had been under fire before from environmentalists. Nespresso, a unit of the Nestle empire, has been criticized repeatedly for their coffee capsules. Most of these used aluminum pods inevitably find their way into landfills.

This new deal will find both Nespresso and the Anglo-Australian mining company in a position to improve their reputation among investors and consumers alike. Rio Tinto has committed to providing the coffee maker with aluminum produced using renewable energy while Nespresso has promised to come out with coffee pods made from 100 percent sustainable material by 2020.

Rio Tinto’s Contribution

Last month, Rio Tinto’s Chief Executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques, stated that mining companies have to cultivate new partners as the industry works to enhance its image and compete for skilled workers.

Due to environmental and economic reasons, Rio Tinto’s aluminum division is already utilizing hydropower. This decision has led to the company becoming the first aluminum producer to be certified by the ASI or Aluminum Stewardship Initiative.

To be certified by the ASI, companies must fulfill its requirements for low emissions, use of renewable energy, and biodiversity protection, as well as respecting the rights of indigenous people, and supply chain transparency and traceability.

The ASI certifies only a fraction of Rio Tinto’s aluminum production.

However, the company’s VP of Sales and Marketing, Tolga Egrilmezer, acknowledges that the Nespresso deal is a significant milestone for the industry and will provide a considerable boost to the usage of responsibly-sourced aluminum.

A partnership like the one with Nespresso can undoubtedly open doors for the mining sector. The industry has already recovered from 2015’s commodity crash, but securing investments are still tricky. Because of where mines are typically located, investors are concerned about the security and governance of these regions. Another challenge is the use of carbon-intensive coal.

For its part, Rio Tinto has already divested itself of its coal mines. However, coal is still being utilized in some company operations.

The Nespresso agreement isn’t the mining giant’s first or only foray into improving into green technology. It announced in May that it is working with Apple and Alcoa, another aluminum maker, on technology that will eradicate the discharge of greenhouse gases from aluminum smelting procedure.

A Steep Road Ahead for Nespresso

Nespresso’s move to environmentally-friendly coffee pods is admirable, but the company knows that having ASI-certified capsules will not be happening immediately. However, Nespresso said it’s working non-stop with manufacturers to not only make better products but also to make recycling them easier. They currently do have a program that takes back used pods and recycles the packaging, however, consumer usage for the program is low.

The Nestle-backed division has a tough fight ahead of it though. While it holds almost a third of the coffee capsule market, it’s facing stiff competition from companies that are already claiming to be sustainable. One British brand, Halo, has recently revealed that it has developed the “first fully home compostable paper-based coffee capsule and packaging.”