LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — Keurig’s single-cup coffee brewing systems do not come up on short on convenience, as millions of instant-gratification and caffeine-loving customers will tell you, but they may be coming up short on environmental-friendliness.
According to a report from Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. on fiscal year 2014, approximately 9.8 billion “Keurig Brewed portion packs” were sold during that time period. According to one estimate, that’s enough cups to wrap around the globe 10.5 times if they were placed end-to-end.
And even if users were willing to rinse out the used cups and recycle them, which sort of flies in the face of the system’s no-muss, no-fuss appeal, the popular K-Cup pods are not made of recyclable plastic, anyway.
The company’s Bolt packs, used in the large-carafe brewing system designed for workplaces and hotels, and the Vue and K-Carafe pods, which are compatible with the newer Keurig 2.0 brewers, are recyclable, unlike the original K-Cups. However, the new 2.0 brewers are also not compatible with the company’s “My K-Cup” reusable mesh pod.
In a sustainability report released last month, Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. says the company is committed to making 100 percent of K-Cup packs recyclable by 2020. It aims to switch the material the cups are made of to polypropylene #5 plastic.
“Of the commonly recyclable plastic resins, #5 performs the best in our brewing system,” according to the report. “In addition, it’s a stable material with a good outlook for long-term demand in the recycling stream. It is also accepted by recyclers in approximately 60% of communities in the United States and 93% of communities in Canada.”
Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. is also working toward sustainability in other ways. Last year, the company says it joined leaders from several other companies, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Johnson & Johnson, to invest in the “Closed Loop Fund,” which helps finance development of recycling infrastructure.
The Fund plans to invest $100 million over five years in the form of low- and no-interest loans to help build comprehensive recycling programs, and Keurig Green Mountain, Inc.’s contribution to that is $5 million.
But the K-Cup backlash had already begun before the latest sustainability report was released by the company.
A video uploaded to YouTube in January, entitled “Kill the K-Cup,” is a Cloverfield-esque found footage-style short film that features K-Cups as humankind’s enemy. The video prompted a #killthekcup hashtag. You can watch it below.
Warning: Video contains some content that may not be appropriate for sensitive viewers.
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