K-Cups in landfills: A monster problem
Most K-Cups are made from non-recyclable plastic.
Due to the type of plastic used in their production, recycling isn’t an option for most K-Cups, the coffee pods produced by Keurig Green Mountain (the company behind the popular Keurig coffee brewers), and this means that the vast majority of these cups end up in landfills.
Billions of non-recyclable K-Cups are in dumps around the world.
One does not need to be an environmentalist to realize that billions of those non-biodegradable tiny plastic cups in garbage dumps across the globe is not good for the planet. Considering the company has been around since the 90’s and produced 9.8 billion of their branded cups last year (an increase from 8.3 billion in 2013), the amount of brewed K-Cups in landfills is a real and growing problem.
How many K-Cups are currently in landfills? According to a Canadian filmmaker from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Mike Hachey, who created both a website and a video to raise awareness about this issue, there could be as many as 60 billion of these small plastic cups in landfills. On his site, Hachey posted that “In 2013, Green Mountain Coffee produced enough coffee pods to wrap around the equator 10.5 times.”
Both Hachey’s site and video are titled “Kill The K-Cup”. In the over-dramatic dystopian horror video from Egg Studios, where single-use coffee pod monsters wreak havoc in a city and destroy whatever is in their path, the message “Kill the K-Cup before it kills our planet,” is stated loud and clear.
Approximately 95% of Green Mountain’s K-Cups end up in landfills.
Presently, only about 5% of the K-Cups produced by the company are recyclable. The rest are produced using No.7 plastic, which cannot be recycled. Even though other companies are creating compostable pods that are biodegradable, the new Keurig 2.0 rejects pods that are made by rival companies, due to its digital rights management system.
Monique Oxender, Keurig Green Mountain’s chief sustainability officer, admitted that Hachey’s criticism of the company is warranted. “We’re not proud of where we are right now, and we’re committed to fixing it,” Oxender told The Salt, NPR’s blog.
The company has come up with a solution called Grounds to Grow On. This is a brewed K-Cup pack recovery program. The program will provide the company’s workplace customers who use Keurig machines in their offices, to return every brewed pack to Keurig’s disposal partners.
While this is a start, the major issue is that though the company may be committed to finding a solution for the growing number of K-Cups in landfills, their goal is to fix it by 2020. According to Hachey’s calculation, by that time, K-Cups will have circled the Earth at least 52 more times.