(Long Island, NY) People love coffee. They also love convenience. That’s why Keurig Green Mountain’s eponymous coffee machine has taken the world by storm…instead of being forced to grind beans, dump them into a paper filter, and run hot water through them in order to get a steaming cup of joe, those looking for a quick caffeine fix can simply pop a so-called K-Cup into a Keurig machine, press a button, and *poof* you have a cop of coffee in just about any flavor you can imagine. Given mankind’s gravitation towards any form or automation in their daily lives, it’s no wonder why the Keurig caught on so fast.
However, the Keurig is not universally beloved…environmentalists have long held a healthy dose of ire for the device, as the K-Cups have this pesky little habit of being non-recyclable, leading to landfills clogged to capacity and beyond with the things after their single-use lives have expired, according to an article by the Mother Nature Network.
“One in five kitchen counters in America houses a Keurig coffee machine, but the company has come under intense scrutiny in recent years for its monopoly on the coffee brewing market and for the extreme environmental degradation caused by its line of single-use plastic coffee pods,” they said. “Keurig critics have been quick to flaunt the statistic that in 2013 alone, Keurig produced enough plastic coffee pods to circle the Earth 10.5 times.”
The Keurig and its K-Cups have been something of a bone of contention with green-minded individuals for quite some time now, but Keurig has finally done something to address their woes- yes, they have introduced a new K-Cup that can actually be recycled! Well…sort of.
Before we delve into answering whether or not these new K-Cups are indeed recyclable, green blog Yellow Pages Goes Green casts doubt on the notion in an article that reveals that the inventor of the K-Cup itself, John Sylvan – who now works in the solar industry – has stated that the reviled “pod” is, in its current configuration, “impossible” to recycle.
“Sylvan has gone on record as stating that, the way the pods are currently designed, recyclability is impossible,” they said. “No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable. The plastic is a specialized plastic made of four different layers that most recycling plants are not equipped to handle. To make matters even worse, there is a foil lid attached to each pod that must be removed before recycling. Be honest, have you ever taken the foil top off a K-Cup before throwing it away? I didn’t think so.”
So, let’s take a look at these new, allegedly recyclable K-Cups and see just how recyclable they are, why don’t we? Tree Hugger recently posted an article where they point out the flaws and misconceptions in these new K-Cups and their ability – or lack thereof – to win over the environmental crowd.
“They have changed the plastic from whatever it was to polypropylene, which can be sorted and shredded by middlemen and sold to manufacturers that use recycled plastic,” they said. “But recyclable as they may be, the new cups are not compostable. They are not reusable. And Keurig will still be selling billions of pieces of plastic each year.”
Tree Hugger goes on to point out that, in order for these new K-Cups to truly be considered recyclable, they much be essentially cleaned and readied by the person who bought them in the first place; the aluminum foil lid and used coffee grounds must first be removed before it can be sent to a plant for processing, and for someone too lazy to engage in the process of making drip coffee – in other words, the type of person why would buy a Keurig to begin with – isn’t likely to be bothered going to the trouble. Therefore, these new K-Cups will be thrown out in the garbage (as opposed to the recycling barrel) with most likely the same frequency as the old ones.
So, with this in mind, clearly the easiest way to help the environment as it pertains to coffee consumption is simple- brew your own in a traditional drip machine. Sure, it might take a few seconds of extra effort – really, that’s all – but the result will be a better-tasting (yes, Keurig is not renowned for using the highest quality of gourmet coffees…true coffee aficionados have always turned their noses up at the concept of a K-Cup, regardless of their environmental impact) cup of joe and one that you don’t have to worry about in regards to the sustainability of the planet we live on. Dump the K-Cup and get yourself a Mr. Coffee.