Filling up the landfill, one coffee pod at a time

A single cup gourmet brewer by Keurig.

Click the audio player above to listen to our piece on the growth of single-cup coffee machines and the recyclability of those products.

Ninety-five percent of the material in those K-Cup single serve coffee pods is non-recyclable composite plastic, according to Mother Jones. And with only 5 percent of the pods currently recyclable, the company that makes Keurig machines, Green Mountain Coffee, says it is going to make all of its K-Cups recyclable by 2020.

That's why Roberto A Ferdman's article in Quartz is titled, "The world’s growing love affair with the most wasteful form of coffee there is."

"In 2011, there were enough K-Cups used to encircle the globe more than six times," says Ferdman. "If you were to extrapolate the numbers to last year, it would be more than ten times."

And in his story, Ferdman writes:

"The sheer volume of pod waste is staggeringAs Murray Carpenter notes in his book Caffeinated, the K-cups discarded in 2011 would have encircled the globe more than six times, and in 2013, more than 10 timesAcross the coffee pod industry, hundreds of millions of pounds of unrecyclable trash are now being made, used, and then tossed away each year in the US."

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included a photo of Nespresso coffee pods but the interview never explicitly mentioned Nespresso. The photo has been changed.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...