Monday, June 8, 2015

Keurig Coffee Creates Demand For Disposable Products

Keurig Coffee Creates Demand For Disposable Products

by Katherine Millsap

The Keurig Coffee machine, produced by Keurig Green Mountain Coffee Company, forces the consumer who wants to use their single cup coffee machines to buy coffee pods (called K-cups) that are single use and non-recyclable.   Their previous line of coffee makers, the K-cup Brewers, are their most popular line and were capable of utilizing plastic reusable coffee pods that could be filled with grounds for each cup of coffee.   This line was environmentally friendly as the only waste from making a cup of coffee was compostable coffee grinds.   However, along the lines of new products from technology companies, Keurig has come out with a new coffee brewer line called the Keurig 2.0 Brewer.   This new generation of coffee brewers has been aggressively advertised as an improvement from former models and therefore worthy of upgrading to.  

This new line of coffee brewers has shown to have only minor improvements by adding a carafe so larger amounts of coffee can be made, but the environmental impact has drastically increased.   The new K-cups for this latest brewer are not only unable to be recycled as the previous K-cups were, but also the company has not created a reusable pod.   This forces the consumer who wants to buy the newest machine to use environmentally damaging products.

What Keurig is doing is intentionally creating a demand for products that follow the Planned Obsolescence business strategy.   They have created the demand for the newest and shiniest model with few improvements that effect the actual use of the machine and then cornered the market with coffee pods that are one-time use and non-recyclable ultimately creating the never ending need for consumers to buy K-cups.

Keurig has reported that they sold over 9.8 billion K-cups in 2014, the vast majority of these are
non-recyclable and end up in landfills.   With the sheer volume of waste these brewers create, and the company refusing to create reusable pods for their latest generation, one must ask themselves if the convenience of a Keurig brewer is worth the environmental impact of their use?

For Keurig’s Sustainability Statement and 2020 Environmental Plans:

Article from The Atlantic with Interview of Keurig Inventor and Former Owner John Sylvan:

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