Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

keurig waste

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Despite bringing joy to millions of coffee-craving people every day, John Sylvan, creator of the Keurig coffee maker, regrets his invention due to the amount of waste it generates.

To this day Sylvan does not understand consumers 'slavish' addiction to the pods, which he finds, "Rather expensive." When Sylvan developed the product, he thought it would mainly be used in offices -- but that hasn't been the case. According to the Atlantic, one in three U.S. homes owns a pod-based coffee machine.

As many as 40 per cent of Canadian homes use them, and the non-recyclable, non-biodegradable waste they generate are extremely unpopular among environmentalists. "I don't know why people have them in their house," Sylvan told the CBC, adding that consumers should consider purchasing eco-friendly alternatives. Sylvan worked at Keurig during the 1990s. He thought he Keurig would be a benefit to office dwellers, enabling them to grab a cafe-quality drink without having to venture outside. "That would make it environmentally neutral, because you wouldn't have those Starbucks cups [everywhere]," Sylvan told the CBC. But the popularity of the product negated his intention, quickly morphing into a massive generator of plastic waste. Sylvan left the company in 1997 and sold his ownership to Keurig Green Mountain for $50,000. Today, the company sells billions of plastic K-cups each year, with Canadians spending $95 million in 2014 on single serve coffee products. In 2013, 8.3 billion K-cups were produced. Keurig Green Mountain says it plans to have its cups fully recyclable by 2020, but Sylvan tells the CBC he's skeptical of the plan. "There's other ways to do it, but they're not exploring other ways to do it," he says. "They're going to make those little plastic cups forever, because they can't think outside the box."

PLASTIC COFFEE PODS AND THE ENVIRONMENT: Plastic coffee pods can degrade to form microplastics, which can migrate into waterways and pose a threat to wildlife. While all the components used to create a K-cup are recyclable individually, the product cannot be recycled when combined into a single unit. The cups can take up to 50 years or more to degrade in a landfill.

Sources: The Atlantic | The CBC

2 Comment(s):
Keurig said...
Keurig now offers recycling pod option. You just have to do all the work. Learn more here:
September 6, 2016 10:07:26
Keurig said...
Is there a serious problem with coffee capsules? First there was the coffee bean, then the instant coffee jar, and then expensive coffee shop drinks on the go. In the past decade or more coffee drinkers worldwide have adopted a new method of getting their daily jolt of caffeine - the coffee capsule machine, in which small plastic or aluminium pods capped with foil or filter paper containing coffee grounds are put into a machine that fills a cup quickly with palatable coffee. But increasingly the single-serving coffee pods, which Nespresso first sold in 1986 in four flavours, are attracting critics who say they are an environmental menace. "These portion packs cause unnecessary resource consumption and waste generation, and often contain polluting aluminium," the report says. "The capsules can't be recycled easily because they are often made of a mixture of plastic and aluminium," adds Jan Dube, spokesman of the Hamburg Department of the Environment and Energy. The complexity of the packaging - often a mix of different materials - combined with the dregs of organic waste from unused ground coffee sitting in the bottom of the pod makes them difficult to process in standard municipal recycling plants. It's 40 years since Eric Favre, the inventor of Nespresso, first developed the coffee pod, and 30 years since the first machine was released. By one count, 254 separate patents reference Favre's original design for "a capsule containing a substance for making up a drink using an apparatus". As recently as last year Lavazza, a coffee manufacturer, submitted its own patent for capsule technology. Coffee pods make up one third of the €18bn (£13.9bn) Western European coffee market, according to Ross Colbert, an analyst at Rabobank - and while the coffee market in general is growing at 1.6% a year, capsule sales are outstripping them, growing 9% a year since 2011. According to analysts, in the last year more than £112m-worth of coffee pods were sold in the UK, up by a third from 2014. Sales are expected to treble by 2020, at which point coffee capsule sales could overtake those of tea bags. "They've been very disruptive to coffee and the way people drink coffee," Colbert says. "It allows a consumer to stock their pantry with enough variety to satisfy a family or social gathering, and always have something new to try. Some people get bored drinking the same coffee day after day." But according to Colbert, "sustainability concerns have probably had a dampening effect on growth" in the coffee capsule sector. Even John Sylvan, the inventor of the K-cup single-serving coffee pod, America's biggest selling capsule, last year foreswore his invention. "I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it," he told one journalist. Others share his concern. "We're doing our best in society to reduce greenhouse emissions, and in many ways we're making progress, but in certain ways we're going back 20 or 30 years," says Doug Leblanc, a coffee shop owner from Nova Scotia, Canada. "Making coffee in plastic pods that go in the garbage? There are other ways to make coffee that are better and have less impact on the environment." Leblanc is one of the people behind the Kill the K-cup campaign. With a local film studio, the campaign produced a spoof monster movie last year in which a giant made of plastic coffee pods runs roughshod over a city. In Leblanc's hometown of Halifax, he believes, 200,000 or more capsules have been kept away from landfill by convincing residents to take their coffee in a different manner. Yet coffee makers claim they are working to increase recycling of their capsules. The BBC contacted the makers of the four most popular capsule machines in the UK: Bosch, who make the Tassimo, Nescafe, who make the Dolce Gusto and Nespresso, and Phillips. Phillips refer to their machine - the Senseo - as using coffee pods, but these resemble teabags and are biodegradable. Read the whole article at
September 6, 2016 10:03:21
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