Are Keurig K Cups Recyclable?

Are K Cups RecyclableEnvironmental Concern: Are Keurig K Cups Recyclable?

If you are asking the question “Are Keurig K cups Recyclable?”, then you are not alone in your quest to make sure that your desire for single cup coffee does not mean a harmful impact on the environment.  So far the answer is no.  The k cup contains multiple parts: a plastic cup, paper filter, ground coffee, and a foil lid.  Even if one were to go to the trouble of removing the paper filter, grounds, and foil lid, there is no identifier on the plastic cup to signify that it is, in fact, recyclable or would be accepted at a recycling facility.

The Need To Make Keurig K Cups Recyclable

Recently, a news story from reported that the environmental concern is becoming more and more troubling as the Keurig single cup coffee system continues to grow in sales.  With Starbucks k cups and Dunkin Donuts k cups being added to the k cup beverage line up, the spotlight shines a little brighter on this whole ‘k cup’ thing.  It looks as if the Keurig trend is growing strong, and as it does it increases the usage of k cups and in turn increases the amount of waste that will clog up landfills or be incinerated, which brings along its own consequences.  Environmentalists, such as, Cindy Luppi of Clean Water Action have noted concern over k cups being non-recyclable.  “That means they end up in the landfills and incinerators, and impact our health. The emissions end up in the air we breathe and the water we drink.”

Is It On Green Mountain’s Agenda to Make Keurig K Cups Recyclable?

Both websites for Keurig and its parent company Green Mountain Coffee Roasters acknowledge the environmental concern.  One of the questions on the Frequently Asked Questions page of the GMCR website is “Are your Keurig k cups recyclable?”  Green Mountain states that they are taking the concern seriously and finding a solution is a priority for them.

The Keurig website states:

As a company, we are committed to responsible business practices that are achievable, sustainable and inspiring. We would like to share what we at Keurig, Incorporated are achieving in cooperation with GMCR to brew a better world…for both gourmet coffee lovers and lovers of best practices in corporate responsibility.

Reducing the environmental impact of our packaging materials and brewing systems is a top priority for Keurig. It is a challenge to create a portion pack that is recyclable and delivers an extraordinary cup of coffee; however, Keurig is actively working to meet this challenge head on.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters website states:

Reducing the environmental impact of our coffee packaging materials and brewing systems, including the K-Cup® portion packs used in our Keurig® Single-Cup Brewing Systems, is a top priority for us and we are dedicated to finding a solution.

We’ve made progress on other areas of our packaging.  We helped bring the first hot to-go beverage cup and lid made with renewable materials to the marketplace.  And all the packaging film for our 10oz/12oz bags is now made with 19.4% PLA, a renewable biopolymer derived from natural cornstarches.

We are approaching the packaging challenge associated with portion packs with the same aggressive drive toward a solution.

Ways to Be Green Without Having to Make Keurig K Cups Recyclable

Take the focus off of making Keurig k cups recyclable and you will discover that there is a way around using a new k cup every time you brew.  Keurig and other k cup compatible brewers have accessories available on the market that allow for using coffee with a refillable mesh filter, using a plastic reusable cup with paper filters, or using lids made to fit a cleaned out spent k cup.    These gadgets allow you to get your single cup of coffee, with little or no waste other than coffee grounds, which you can compost.  Check out the following items, and click on the products for more details.

My K Cup – refillable metal mesh k cup filter

eKobrew -  refillable high quality micro mesh k cup filter

Solofill – refillable stainless steel mesh k cup filter

K Savers – lids made of stainless steel for reusing k cups

My-Kap – plastic lids for reusing k cups

Medelco Filter – refillable surgical grade stainless steel mesh k cup filter

These handy accessories do not make Keurig k cups recyclable; however it is a step in the right direction.


References: – “Coffee Machine Maker In Hot Water Over Plastic Cups

Keurig’s webpage on social responsibility

Green Mountain Coffee Roaster’s webpage on social responsibility

Clean Water Action




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