Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Video: 'Kill the K-Cup Before It Kills Our Planet'

Business

When the single-serving coffee maker first came out in the ’90s, it appeared to be a brilliant solution to the problem of how to brew a single cup of coffee when you don't want to make a whole pot. For single-serve coffee, ground coffee is sealed in an airtight pod into which hot water is injected, making your cup of coffee always fresh.

In 2013, Green Mountain Coffee produced enough coffee pods to wrap around the equator 10.5 times.
Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.com

One company, Keurig (now Keurig Green Mountain since its acquisition by Green Mountain in 2006), quickly came to dominate the category as its popularity exploded and lent its name to the one-use cups, now known as K-Cups. (While it's used generically, like Kleenex or Bandaids, it is copyrighted).

But their popularity has created an even bigger problem: a mountain of used, non-recyclable plastic cups ending up in landfills. According to Halifax, Nova Scotia-based filmmaker Mike Hachey, who has made K-Cups the target of his crusade, there could be as many as 60 billion of them in landfills. Hachey started a website Kill the K Cup to track the activities of Keurig Green Mountain and, to raise awareness, he's made an over-the-top horror video in which a monster made of K-Cups attacks helpless young urbanites. "Kill the K-Cup before it kills our planet," the film proclaims.

According to NPR blog The Salt, Hachey launched his mission last year after buying a Keurig machine for his office and noticing the mountain of plastic cups it left behind.

"In 2013, Green Mountain Coffee produced enough coffee pods to wrap around the equator 10.5 times," he writes at his website. "The new Keurig 2.0 does not offer reusable filters and the existing filter does not fit on the machine. They have an aluminum lid, which is hard to separate from the cup. Even if the plastic, aluminum and coffee could be separated, the pod is too small to be handled by most recycling systems."

He points out that other companies are making biodegradable, compostable pods, but the new Keurig 2.0 has a digital rights management system that rejects pods made by rival companies. Currently only about 5 percent of Green Mountain's K-Cups are recyclable; the rest are made of No. 7 plastic, which can't be recycled.

Keurig Green Mountain's chief sustainability officer Monique Oxender admitted that Hachey has a point.

"It's a warranted criticism," she told NPR's The Salt. "We're not proud of where we are right now, and we're committed to fixing it."

The problem is they're committed to fixing it by 2020, a goal they announced last year, giving them time to circle the Earth with K-Cups at least 52 more times according to Hachey's calculation. In the meanwhile, they've come up with a cumbersome solution called Grounds to Grow On.

"We developed our Grounds to Grow On program as a direct response to customers asking us how they can responsibly dispose of their brewed K−Cup packs," says Keurig. "Now, thanks to the help of g2revolution, an innovative recycling company, every brewed pack is used to enrich soil and generate energy, rather than ending up as landfill. We like to think of it as 'creating positive change from the grounds up.'"

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

9 Incredible Health Benefits of Coffee

Find Out Which U.S. City Shames You Into Composting

Is 3D Printing the Answer to Plastic Waste?

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A protest against the name of the Washington Redskins in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Nov. 2, 2014. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.

Read More Show Less
The survival tools northern fish have used for millennia could be a disadvantage as environmental conditions warm and more fast-paced species move in. Istvan Banyai / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma

Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.

Read More Show Less
A mother walks her children through a fountain on a warm summer day on July 12, 2020 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Gary Hershorn / Getty Images

A heat wave that set in over the South and Southwest left much of the U.S. blanketed in record-breaking triple digit temperatures over the weekend. The widespread and intense heat wave will last for weeks, making the magnitude and duration of its heat impressive, according to The Washington Post.

Read More Show Less
If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus. blackCAT / Getty Images

By Joni Sweet

If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of burnt areas of the Amazon rainforest, near Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2019. CARLOS FABAL / AFP via Getty Images

NASA scientists say that warmer than average surface sea temperatures in the North Atlantic raise the concern for a more active hurricane season, as well as for wildfires in the Amazon thousands of miles away, according to Newsweek.

Read More Show Less
A baby receives limited treatment at a hospital in Yemen on June 27, 2020. Mohammed Hamoud / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Oxfam International warned Thursday that up to 12,000 people could die each day by the end of the year as a result of hunger linked to the coronavirus pandemic—a daily death toll surpassing the daily mortality rate from Covid-19 itself.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The 2006 oil spill was the largest incident in Philippine history and damaged 1,600 acres of mangrove forests. Shubert Ciencia / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Jun N. Aguirre

An oil spill on July 3 threatens a mangrove forest on the Philippine island of Guimaras, an area only just recovering from the country's largest spill in 2006.

Read More Show Less