In an effort to overcome one of the greatest shortcomings in its offerings and a common cause of customer complaint, Keurig Green Mountain Inc.  has gotten closer to making its K-Cup coffee pods more eco-friendly. Following the release of its 12th annual sustainability report, the Vermont-based company expects to produce K-Cups that are 100 percent recyclable by 2020.

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From Coffee Pods To Plastic Plates

While Keurig has released some recyclable options in the past, the company is looking for ways to address customer concerns over the plastic waste created through the majority of their single-cup, quick-serve, coffee pods. By switching from a difficult to recycle polystyrene blend to polypropylene #5 plastic in their pod production, Keurig has found a way to make the material used in their K-Cups totally recoverable for post-consumer recycled materials. The switch means that old coffee pods could be used to make products like storage bins, outdoor furniture, and other household goods like plastic plates and cutlery.

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An Involved And Expensive Change

To make the change, Keurig will be faced with the expensive and involved undertaking of converting its facilities and processes to produce the new recyclable K-Cups. The company has chosen to launch the new cups in Canada as early as 2018–two years ahead of its planned U.S. launch. In the 2016 sustainability report, Keurig has cited the “advanced recycling infrastructure and strong interest in recycling and engagement from Canadian consumers” as part of their decision.

Setting A New Precedent For Single Serve Coffee

The move may also set a precedent for recyclable coffee pod and packet materials for single-cup competitors, including Nespresso and Starbucks. In addition to trying to beat Keurig in flavor, brewing method, and other features, these companies may seek to compete with a reclaiming or recycling strategy for their own coffee pod options.


What are your thoughts on Keurig’s move to change their coffee pod materials and recyclability? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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