Tracey Cheek- Staff Writer
The Keurig can be found in the majority of college dorms, homes and office buildings across the country. What was once a machine that saves time and energy whilst making a cup of coffee is now causing extreme environmental hazards. Those tiny plastic pods that are tossed into the trash after using can now circle the Earth’s equator ten and a half times.
These little K-cups have created a mountain of garbage in landfills. Green Mountain, which is the leading brand in producing K-Cups, make only five percent of their current cups out of recyclable plastic. The other ninety-five percent is made from “number seven plastic,” which is non-recyclable in most places. And even in cases where the pod is made from a recyclable plastic, odds are it will not get recycled properly. In order to be processed, the K-cup must have the wet coffee grounds emptied and the aluminum lid removed from the pod. If a coffee-drinker goes through that effort and actually recycles the pod, it may even be too small to be processed through recycling equipment.
Keurig and other brands are getting a lot of heat from this problem and are setting plans into place to solve it. The reason behind the company using plastic is that coffee is a perishable item. The container must have the ability to prevent light, oxygen and moisture from entering the product to prevent it from going bad, and so they came up with the K-Cup that we use today. According to a sustainability report from Keurig, they are aiming to have all K-cups be made out of 100 percent recyclable material by 2020.
This is not soon enough for some however, and people began a petition online called “Kill the K-cup.” This campaign is urging the company to move their change to 100 percent recyclable materials to an earlier date, as the landfills will continue to harmfully build up with these pods.
There are some alternatives until that change takes place. You can use a reusable coffee filter in your Keurig – or any other single-brew maker. This not only helps the environment, but helps your wallet as well. Buying coffee beans or already ground up coffee is significantly cheaper than buying individual pods. Or, if you’re already set in a morning routine of popping in a K-cup and pressing a button, try and find a different company that uses recyclable materials.
Death Wish Coffee Company sells fully recyclable cups with organic fair trade coffee. They make their cups with a solid bottom and mesh sides to keep their coffee fresh. Keurig also recently launched a “Grounds to Grow On” campaign in efforts of making the company more environmentally friendly. This is useful for offices or schools that go through a significant amount of cups-per-day; they package up the used cups and send them back to the company. The company then takes the used pods and burns them for fuels.
These little used pods can circle around the world over ten times, and it might seem like a hassle for something so tiny, but every effort counts. A good place to start is to use reusable filters and be aware of the harmful impact that these pods have on the environment.