K-Cups Single Use Coffee Packaging Generate Significant Waste


Wasted_K-CupsInteresting story in the NYT last week regarding the increasingly popular single use coffee pods known as K-Cups for Keurig coffee machines.

K-Cups are designed to be single use servings of coffee and are small plastic containers filled with ground coffee which fit into single serving brewing sytems like the Keurig coffee machines.

As the machines have become more and more popular in the US – thanks to help from major retailers like QVC who often features the machines on television, questions have been raised over what to do about the packaging waste.

Single use packaging like the K-Cups results in tons and tons of used plastic K-Cups ending up in the trash system.  A major player in the K-Cup market is Green Mountain Coffee Roasters – a company I’ve covered extensively on SISG.  They have been leaders in more sustainable packaging in the coffee industry – with one big exception – the K-Cup.

The Times reported 80% of Green Mountain Coffee’s $803 million in sales last year came from single use coffee pods and their brewing systems.  So obivously the K-Cup is big money for Green Mountain Coffee.

But Green Mountain has led the charge in re-configuring consumer store packed coffee – incorporating PLA into their packaging and working towards further sustainable improvements.  So why can’t they devise a more sustainable method for their K-Cups?

According to the NYT the company is currently working on methods to make the whole K-Cup process more sustainable.  Options include the use of biodegradable packaging, recycling programs and making the cups reusable in some fashion.

We’ll continue to follow this story.  I’ve always thought the whole single serving coffee concept was interesting except for the waste it generates.