To say that the K-Cup has been a zeitgeist in the world of coffee wouldn’t be an overstatement. Keurig has revolutionized the way we drink coffee at home, at work and presumably has affected the amount of to-go coffee some people purchase. But are K-Cups all they are cracked up to be?
While there has been small, quiet, but growing public outcry over the additional waste created by K-Cups versus brewing coffee at home or the office, K-Cups are undoubtedly creating more waste than traditional brewing when at home or the office and some of the pods are not recyclable.
If you want to recycle your K-Cups the first thing to check is the bottom of the K-Cup for that trusty recycle symbol – note the number and make sure your local recycling program takes that kind of plastic. Next the foil top has to be completely removed and the K-Cup rinsed out thoroughly. If you are familiar with recycling practices you know that you can’t recycle dirty food containers.
There is even a company now offering a cutting tool to help ease the process. If you love your single cup maker, the easiest way to “go green” while drinking your coffee is to purchase a reusable filter cup in which you place your own ground coffee. There are also several options on in the market for off-brand single cup makers that only use a reusable filter cup.
The Atlantic reported: “The best estimates say the Keurig pods buried in 2014 would actually circle the Earth … more than 12 [times]…last year [Keurig Green Mountain] sold 9.8 billion Keurig-brewed portion packs.”
The 2015 article notes that, “K-Cups are extremely profitable, selling standard coffee grounds for around $40 per pound.” Which means consumers are paying more per pound for their K-Cup coffee than some highly sought after coffees like Jamaican Blue Mountain.
A New York Times article estimates K-Cup coffee can cost consumers as much as $50 a pound and states that most high-end coffees cost around $20 a pound.
While what about those who are replacing their morning Starkbucks with K-Cup coffee? A Fox Business article states that:
“While Keurig-brewed coffee costs more than traditionally brewed coffee, consumers still save a significant amount of money over the long run by using a Keurig brewer rather than buying a daily drink at Starbucks. You would save roughly $1.25 a day or $456 a year assuming you would forgo a daily $1.75 twelve-ounce cup of coffee from Starbucks and instead make a ten-ounce cup of coffee from your Keurig. After subtracting out the cost of the Keurig machine, you will still end up with hundreds of extra dollars in your pocket at the end of the first year.”
The Fox Business article also noted that even if consumers bought their morning coffee at McDonalds, K-Cups would save them $183 dollars a year.
A CNN Money article tells readers that to-go coffee drank from a disposable cup is good for the environment either as the cups are almost exclusively non-recyclable do to the mixture of paper and plastic products in the cups. The article claims that nearly 60 billion paper cups get thrown into the garbage each year in the US.
It seems the best over-all option is to brew your coffee traditionally or from a completely reusable single-cup solution.