Today almost one in three American households have a pod-based coffee machine. Last year K-Cups accounted for most of Keurig Green Mountain’s $4.7 billion in revenue (more than five times what the company made five years prior). While profitable, the company has received some backlash because they are generating a ton of plastic waste.
The cups that hold the coffee brew inside of them are not recyclable or biodegradable and are becoming more and more popular. Even with this backlash, the company continues to grow without making any changes to the plastic that it uses and in fact, inventor of the K-Cups, John Sylvan, even says that he regrets making them because of all of the plastic he is wasting.
In 2014, enough K-Cups were sold that if they were placed end-to-end, they would circle the globe 10.5 times and almost all of them ended up in landfills. A video called “Kill the K-Cup, before it kills out planet” was made about the pollution of these K-Cups and can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/116606409
Last year, Keurig Green Mountain pledged to create a fully recyclable version of the K-Cup by 2020 and last month the company’s annual sustainability report reaffirmed that vow. While nice to think about, the inventor of the cups, Sylvan, said that, “no matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable. The plastic is a specialized plastic made of four different layers.”
“If you ever find yourself throwing out a K-Cup, and then you remember that 13 billion went into landfills last year, do you feel okay contributing to that? That’s what it comes down to.” – Hachey, leader behind the Kill the K-Cup campaign