K-Cup recycling: I told you so

by JulieCraves on January 15, 2022

Some years ago, I swore off writing any more about K-Cups, a product line that was antithetical to the concept of sustainable coffee.  A few years later, I did post yet another update on the lack of recyclability of used K-Cups. And here I am again, back to beat the dead horse!

Daily Coffee News reports that K-Cup owner Keurig Dr Pepper (itself owned mostly by JAB Holding and minority holder Mondelēz International) has reached settlements in Canada and the U.S. in lawsuits stemming from false or misleading claims regarding the recyclability of K-Cups. As I described in my last post on the topic, although the K-Cups are (finally) made of a recyclable material, it is #5 plastic (polypropylene), which is not accepted in all communities. The Daily Coffee News piece notes less than 3% of polypropylene plastic is recycled in the U.S., due to both logistical and capacity issues. The Canadian settlement is for US$2.3 million. The U.S. case is class action, the preliminary agreement has not yet been disclosed, and the parties have another month to begin the finalization of the settlement.

These lawsuits are separate from the antitrust/price-fixing settlements agreed to by Keurig in 2021.

Recycling plastics is a failure at best and a big con at worst. There are plenty of no-waste ways to make a single cup or whole pot of exceptional coffee. Since coffee making is often a daily occurrence, kicking the single-use pod/cup is a great step on the road to quitting plastic.

And while we’re on this pony, I have also revised and updated my post on the recycling saga of Nespresso coffee pods. That’s a product made of a completely recyclable material, aluminum, that also has a poor recycling rate for some of the same reasons as K-Cups (consumer inertia, lack of acceptance at recycling centers). I’ve tossed in Nespresso’s dirty little secret that despite all their splashy ballyhoo discussing how great their pods are because they are made of recyclable aluminum, they only just started using any recycled aluminum in their pods. And all the new aluminum they use is supplied by the nasty mining conglomerate Rio Tinto. Ugh.

Posted in K-Cups/Keurig brewers: alternatives,Nestlé/Nespresso

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