K-Cup® Waste

Reduce Coffee Pod Waste

K-Cup®s have become super popular. Not surprising, since they’re quick and easy to use in our rushed society. With over 10 million pods sold each year, this non-recyclable #7 plastic is also quickly becoming a large scale waste problem.

Coffee Pod waste

Coffee Pod Waste

Green Mountain introduced a coffee pod last fall using #5 plastic in its container instead of the #7 plastic, which is recyclable in most cities. We have yet to see any other coffee pod makers use these new containers, but they are available from the Green Mountain website. Keurig is making a push to use these containers in all their lines by the end of this year in Canada and by 2020 in the United States.[1]. In the meantime, these pods are piling up in the trash.

K-Cup®s or, to be more generic, coffee pods are still mostly made with #7 plastic, which is not currently accepted at recycling plants. Furthermore, pods are not accepted for recycling if they contain coffee. Most pods contain coffee, unless they were hot chocolate or another powder that fully dissolved when being used. The new Green Mountain pod has the #5 recycling symbol on the bottom. With these new pods you need only to peel back the foil lid, compost the coffee and then put the plastic container into the regular recycling bin.

Coffee Pod Alternatives

Some solutions to the K-cup® and coffee pod waste problem include the following:

  • Try to find these new K-cup®s, available online right now, from Green Mountain and then dump the coffee grounds in a compost pile before recycling the empty pods in the regular weekly recycling bin.

  • Use the my K-Cup® that comes with most machines. The problem with this one is that when you rinse it out and there are 3 pieces that you need to keep track of at all times, some of which could slip into the garbage disposal at any time. Also, you need to physically remove the casing needed in the machine in order to use a pre-filled coffee pod each time you want to use the myK-Cup.

  • Deconstruct the containers after use (there is a tool called recycle a cup that can be used to help separate the pieces if your pods are like the one in the front of the above picture). Separate the pieces and then stack the empty containers together until you have a bunch. This stack of empty containers can then be mailed to: Medelco, Incorporated Att: RAC Processing 54 Washburn Street Bridgeport, CT 06605.

  • Find a facility nearby that accepts pods for drop off near you, try search.earth911.com for locations.

  • Get some of these reusable plastic filters, fill all of them the night before so they are ready to go in the morning. This saves money, as large bags of coffee are much cheaper than boxes of pods, and energy that is later used to recycle the empty disposable pods. Rinse out these empty containers and then re-fill them over and over again.
  • Coffee Pod waste

    Coffee Pod Waste

    Additional Information

    We think this is currently the best solution around for the K-cup recycling problem. These little gems can be placed into a K-cup machine instead of the individual pods, meaning that you don’t have to switch out the casing before using regular coffee. Buying one of these sets makes it so easy to load and go each morning then flip the coffee into the compost pile and rinse the pods to be ready for the next morning.

    Pods are small, but they do add up over time.

    To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

    SEARCH Eat By Date