Coffee pods are the newest way to enjoy a single cup of coffee. They put brewed coffee into our hands much faster and simpler than the more traditional methods, like brewing a whole pot or using a French press. But, what about all of that waste?
According to Wellness Mama, the K-cup's creator, John Sylvan, actually regrets creating them. He said that they were intended only for office use. Today, an estimated 30 percent of people own Keurigs or other coffee pod devices at home, which means they're being used on a much larger scale. So what's the problem? Why would someone regret creating a 5 billion dollar industry?
The problem is the massive amount of plastic waste produced by coffee pods each year. It turns out, the pods are not biodegradable, and are difficult to recycle. Stine Wilhelmsen of Hubbub, an environmental charity, told Metro News that the reason the coffee pods are so hard to recycle is "due to the specific material mix used -- mixed plastics (PE and PP) and Aluminum -- as well as the contamination caused by the coffee grounds. As most pods comprise of 6g of coffee per 3g of material, it is clear that the rise of coffee pods has serious environmental implications."
Apparently, enough K-cups were sold last year that if they were placed end-to-end, they'd circle the world over 10 times. Even worse is that more and more people are using these coffee pods, so that number will continue to rise as well.
With all of this bad news, there also come solutions. Many coffee companies are reacting to all of this by developing biodegradable and compostable coffee pods. Whew! Some coffee companies, like Dualit, are already using the newer, more environmentally friendly pods. Others are working diligently to make them available. Cru Kafe is reportedly working on 100 percent compostable pods; Lavazza says it's researching the idea currently.
Coffee brand Halo is one of those already offering the new pod. Co-founder Nils Leonard says, "The challenge to anyone with an environmentally positive idea is just to start… And for all of us, to start making a difference in any way we can, with our everyday actions, big or small."
It's so great to know that coffee companies are reacting to this very important issue!