Photo courtesy Mike Mozart on Flickr

When it’s time for your morning cup of coffee, you may be part of the one in three Americans who use a Keurig or other single-serve coffee maker. However, you may not realize that you are contributing to unnecessary strain on your wallet, to superfluous plastic pollution, and even to undermining your own health. Get rid of your Keurig, and opt for a more practical coffee maker.

As of 2017, only Green Mountain Coffee and three other Keurig pods are recyclable. The 200 remaining cups and pods offered are not recyclable, due to the plastic #7 composition of the pods. Its mixed plastic make-up makes it difficult to recycle; only Canadian facilities accept it for recycling a located in Canada.

For consumers in the US, the plastic pods end up in landfills, where they will stay for the next 450 years. The amount of K-cups discarded can circle the earth 12 times.

Though Keurig states all of their K-cups will be recyclable by 2020, people still may not recycle them. To recycle properly, consumers must peel away the aluminum lid, dump out the used coffee and remove the internal paper and filter. 

This process might be too much work for consumers who buy single-serve coffee pods for the convenience in the first place. So, regardless of how recyclable the pods are, Keurig is still producing unsustainable plastic that may still end up in the trash.

Even if people do begin to recycle K-cups, they can still harm individuals in other ways. This wasteful plastic could even be having a detrimental effect on your health. The composite plastic is technically BPA-free, but BPA-free plastics can mimic estrogen activity in the body, according to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. This estrogenic effect can lead to altered functions of reproductive organs, reduced sperm counts, obesity and increased rates for cancer.

Single-serve coffee cups are also more expensive than healthier alternatives. To get pound of coffee in K-cups costs $50. Compare this to a pound of Starbucks Pike Place coffee at $12.95 per pound or Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend at $8.99 a pound.

The pod drinker spends almost four times as much those who drink from the coffee pot. Yearly, the Keurig user spends $400 as opposed to a traditional coffee pot user who spends $72-104 for the coffee pot user. K-cup users are paying more to harm the planet and their bodies.

Many people have already begun avoiding avoid single-serve coffee pods to combat these disastrous environmental, financial and physiological effects. Last year, Hamburg, Germany became the first city to ban single-serve coffee pods.

John Sylvan, cofounder of Keurig, doesn’t even own his product. He has admitted traditional coffee is cheaper and just as easy to make.

“I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it” Sylvan said to The Atlantic, in response to a question about the environmental impact of K-cups.

If the inventor of Keurig won’t even use his product, why should you? So skip the box of K-cups in the grocery store and get rid of your Keurigs. Save four times the money, save the environment and save your health.

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(3) comments


“Coffee lover” like me, can never think a single morning without a cup of coffee. A single-serve coffee maker like Keurig can change the extra pain of coffee making. I am very fond of Keurig, because it generally provides different versions of coffee maker to make our life easy. A stainless steel cups can change the taste of coffee perfectly because of its durability of remaining hot. So I can’t but think a coffee without a stainless steel cups!!


I agree with the other comment. We have a plastic insert that holds a paper filter and we use our own ground coffee. It's just as easy to dispose of this as it is a K-cup. If fact, we can add the coffee grounds to plants and then we only have the paper to trash.


I agree with a lot of it, but it overlooks one simple fix - get a reusable metal cup and buy your coffee in bulk. Problem solved.

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