Cups and lids market challenged by concern over biodegradability

In response to growing consumer concern over environmental issues, cup and lid companies are increasingly focusing on the development of biodegradable plastics that are more durable and environmentally friendly.

K-Cups, the coffee pods used in Keurig Green Mountain coffee machines, are a prime example of concern over biodegradable plastic cups, with billions of them filling up landfills across the globe. Keurig Green Mountain has been around since the mid 1990s but their one-cup-at-a-time coffee machine has been growing in popularity in the last decade and so the number of plastic K-Cups disposed of has also been growing. Last year Keurig produced 9.8 billion of their branded cups, up from 2013 when the figure was 8.3 billion. After years of non-biodegradable plastic K-Cups being discarded, there could be as many as 60 billion small plastic cups filling landfill sites across the world. Approximately 95% of the non-biodegradable K-Cups end up in landfill because they are made of No.7 plastic which is non-recyclable and it is estimated that in 2013, enough of the plastic cups were discarded to create a chain that would wrap around the equator 10.5 times.

Keurig’s proposed solution to its recycling concern is a K-Cup recovery project called Ground to Grow On, which sees customers who use Keurig machines in their offices return every brewed pack to Keurig’s disposal partners. Many in the plastic cup markets think this is not going far enough and other companies are producing more environmentally friendly alternatives. Keurig has attempted to ground out this competition by making a new machine that rejects pods made by rival companies due to its rights management system; far from eliminating competition, this is likely to see rival companies look to manufacture their own coffee-brewing machines, as well as the small plastic pods.Cups and lids market

A Keurig competitor, Barnaby-based Canterbury Coffee, has come up to a solution to the non-biodegradable cups problem by creating a coffee-pod that is 99% biodegradable. OneCoffee, Canada’s only organic, fair trade, and 99% biodegradable coffee pod is a soft pod with a ring and lid made of compostable biomass plastic derived from plants. The K-Cup is made of a hard plastic shell through which the machine punches holes to allow hot water to flow through to brew your coffee; the OneCoffee cup is made of a mesh filter which produces coffee closer to that of a French press. The mesh filter is the only part of the cup that is made of regular plastic and the company is working on finding a greener alternative to make the pod 100% biodegradable.

Players in the cups and lids market are increasingly inventing newconcern over biodegradability - plastic K-Cups filling up landfill sites technologies which are more environmentally friendly. Cups and lids are manufactured from materials including plastic, paper and metal and the plastic sector, especially, are working to make their products recyclable and biodegradable.

Read More: Biodegradable Coffee Capsules

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