Last month, the city of Hamburg, Germany released a 150-page Guide to Sustainable Procurement banning the purchase of K-Cup single serve coffee pods and other less environmentally friendly products, like bottled water and plastic utensils, in government offices.
Consumers know it takes less effort to get their caffeine kick from K-Cups rather than preparing a traditional brew, but what they may not know is how their daily habit is devastating the environment by creating mountains of landfill trash and polluting the oceans.
Published articles in recent months have revealed the harm single-use coffee pods bring to the environment, and coffee pod pioneer Keurig is one of the the worst culprits. Thanks to a blend of up to four types of plastics plus an aluminum lid, most recycling equipment isn’t designed take apart a K-Cup. The combination of materials make K-Cups neither recyclable nor biodegradable, leaving them to leach plastic chemicals like polystyrene into landfills.
Polystyrene is a hard plastic considered “desirable” by manufacturers because of its longevity and durability. It is used in the manufacturing of a number of household items and appliances just for these reasons. So the same material used to make products intended to last for decades, like a refrigerator or washing machine, is also being used to generate a six-ounce cup of coffee that is consumed in less than 10 minutes — requiring the use of new pods each day, perhaps multiple times a day.
Are zero-waste single serve coffee pods achievable? You bet. Some other coffee brands have already announced they are manufacturing 100% biodegradable and compostable K-Cups using sustainable materials like bamboo.
Keurig late last year announced plans to create recyclable K-Cups by 2020, but with its sixth consecutive quarter of declining sales of machines, it’s hard to imagine that costly research, testing, and launch of biodegradable or recyclable pods is the number-one goal on their list.
Add your voice to help save the environment. Sign Lady Freethinker’s petition urging Keurig to make all K-Cups biodegradable.