Last year some bean drinkers got political. Outrageous protests were self-documented on social media with the sacrificial destruction of one's own beloved Keurig machine (we'll stay out of the underlying politics and stick to recycling). Given the amount of waste that "K-cups"—the plastic single-serve coffee filled cups used in these little apparatuses—drum up on the daily, we weren't complaining. At ALL.
While we were a little surprised that THIS was the event that sparked the #BoycottKeurig movement, we were wondering if any of these small appliance bashers knew just how much their actions benefited the planet (considering they refrained from ordering a brand new one on Amazon first thing the next morning).
K-cups, as innocuous as they may seem, are harboring a dirty (literally trashy) little secret. Unbeknownst to many, the cups are currently not recyclable or biodegradable. And, while they are small, they've been accumulating in recent years. So much so, that the amount of cups sold in 2015 alone (more than 9 billion) could wrap around the Earth 10 times. Ten times. That's almost as many times as my last CVS receipt (seriously, where is the "don't print" option).
Responding to consumer pressure, K-cup maker, Keurig Green Mountain Company, has pledged to begin creating its cups out of #5 polypropylene plastic by 2020—so they will be recyclable. In some areas. Mind you, only 1/3 of major recycling centers accept this type of plastic.
As a self-proclaimed "mountain worshiper", I am a bit offended by a company that uses the word 'mountain' in its name along with the motto "brew a better world," yet contributes so much to plastic waste.
John Sylvan, creator of the Keurig knew just how viable his convenient machine would be, describing it "like a cigarette for coffee, a single-serve delivery mechanism for an addictive substance."
Despite this keen insight, Sylvan never foresaw that his invention would escape office break rooms to make its way into 1 in 3 American homes. And, for what it's worth, he has since disavowed K-cups as too expensive to use, and not much more convenient than drip coffee (and not just because he undersold his shares before the company really took off).
When it comes to the expense that plastic K-cups cause to the environment, we happen to agree.