Over the last ten years, the coffee industry has changed in so many ways. There is a coffee shop on every corner and the idea of single serve inside the home has made its way into about 1 out of every 3 American homes. Convenience, speed, lack of clean up has changed the way individuals make coffee.
The pod-based machines were originally for offices, but they have made their way into American homes. “Last year K-Cups accounted for most of Keurig Green Mountain’s $4.7 billion in revenue—more than five times what the company made five years prior.” (www.theatlantic.com)
There are many environmental concerns about the pods. First, they are non recyclable or biodegradable. Second, they produce a ton of plastic waste that are disposed into landfills every year. “The best estimates say the Keurig pods buried in 2014 would actually circle the Earth not 10.5 times, but more than 12.” (www.theatlantic.com) 12 TIMES!
Here is an article that interviews the inventor of the Keurig and he explains the regret he has for developing the product because of the environmental impact.
Keurig Green Mountain has partnered with Marley coffee, a developer of a recyclable pod cup that can be broken down and each piece disposed of properly. Brent Toevs, the CEO of Marley Coffee, believes that if they can get 1% of the K-cup users to use the new system that they can keep 100 million cups out of landfills in one year. (www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org) It starts with one percent, but imagine if it was 15% or more. It starts with one pod, one family, one company making an effort.
What can each individual do?
Let’s think about convenience for a second. You place one plastic cup into a machine, that in 30 seconds produces 11oz of coffee. It is quick and easy to clean. Making drip coffee requires, coffee grounds, filter, measuring and pouring water. Might take two minutes depending on if your coffee is pre-ground. Definitely drip coffee takes more time and if your morning is stressful, 30 seconds and coffee is ready, that sounds great. Now, we need to think about the cost. To put it in perspective, 1 lb. of K-cup cup coffee costs around $40. You are now paying four times the amount for coffee by buying individual pods. Is it worth it?
http://www.killthekcup.org is a great resource to find out more about K-cups and sign a petition to get Keurig to implement recyclable pods.
In the mean time there are ways to reuse the cups for good if you continue to use the pod system. In this article from USA Today, it shows you options on how to reuse the cups. The main use is to grow garden starters. The coffee grounds are great for the soil, the pods are the perfect size to plant a seed. Every pod reused is one less pod in a landfill.