The Downside to K-Cups

By Rachel Roberts

1443723_82961772We all have our coffee addictions, but believe it or not, some coffee addictions are worse than others. Although incredibly convenient, the amount of waste that single-serving K-Cups produced in 2013 was enough to circle the earth 10.5 times (that’s 8.3 billion K-Cups).

K-Cups are made out of No. 7 composite plastic, which means they are not recyclable. John Sylvan, the inventor of Keurig, told The Atlantic in a recent interview that “I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it.” In fact, Sylvan himself doesn’t even own a Keurig.

According to the National Coffee Association, about 13 million people and 1 in 8 American workplaces feature single-serving coffee brewers. That equates to about 60 billion K-Cups ending up in landfills. And we all know plastic doesn’t decompose..

Keurig was originally envisioned by Sylvan as a machine that would be used in offices, where people often prefer different types of brews. The technology, however, quickly caught on and now Keurigs are on kitchen counters across the world.

In 1997, Sylvan sold the company to Green Mountain Brewing Company for $50,000. Although Sylvan and others have designed and tested reusable K-Cups, according to Sylvan the Green Mountain Brewing Company doesn’t want to utilize this technology.

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But Monique Oxender, the Chief Sustainability Officer for Green Mountain Brewing Company says that they are “not proud of where we are right now, and we’re committed to fixing it.” The company is currently aiming to make all K-Cup packs recyclable by 2020.

Some of the company’s newer coffee pods are made from recyclable plastic, which includes, the Vue, K-Carafe, and the Bolt, but these packs only represent 5% of all the pods produced by Green Mountain Brewing Company.

So the next time you’re craving a cup of coffee, you may want to re-think that single serving coffee pod. As Sylvan says, “its not like drip coffee is tough to make” and you can do your part in keeping millions of plastic K-Cups out of our landfills.

Resources:

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/eats/keurig-k-cup-inventor-feel-bad-making-article-1.2137491

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/03/the-abominable-k-cup-coffee-pod-environment-problem/386501/

http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/04/news/k-cups-keurig-inventor-regrets/

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/01/28/379395819/coffee-horror-parody-pokes-at-environmental-absurdity-of-k-cups

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