Creating Sustainable Products
We take pride in the fact that our products are an enjoyable part of the daily routines of millions of people. And we know that for our beverages and brewing systems to be truly satisfying — for our customers and consumers as well as for us as a company — we need to continually improve the environmental performance of our products.
We believe that our products can be designed, sourced, and manufactured in ways that are good for people and good for the environment. We are dedicated to creating high-quality products that are more sustainable.
From the design of our brewers and the cultivation of coffee and tea, all the way through end-of-life disposal, our aim is to understand our impacts and leave communities and people better off as the result of our business. We are innovating across our value chain — from offering recycling programs to developing recyclable portion packs and addressing the environmental impact of our operations. In addition, we’ve undertaken greenhouse gas and water footprinting studies to better understand our overall impact, and we’re developing partnerships across industries to address broader issues such as packaging and waste.
Our Value Chain
There are seven basic stages in our value chain related to coffee and brewing systems. From the cultivation of coffee beans to brewing the perfect cup of coffee to end-of-life disposal, we seek to understand the impacts of our business and collaborate with others to make meaningful and lasting contributions to solving social and environmental challenges.
Cultivation & Processing
We follow our responsible sourcing guidelines when we source our coffee purchases. We also source some of our coffee from Fair Trade, organic, and Rainforest Alliance® certified farms. These certification programs encourage socially and environmentally responsible farming and business practices. After coffee is harvested, energy is used to dry, sort, and mechanically hull (removing the outer covering) the beans before packaging, and fuel is consumed to transport the beans to our facilities.
Plastic cups, filter paper, and other materials for packaging our portion packs come from a network of suppliers in countries including Canada, Colombia, Mexico, the Philippines, the United States, and the United Kingdom. These packaging materials have upstream impacts resulting from the energy and water used to make them as well as the fuel used to transport the materials to our facilities.
When green coffee arrives at our facilities, we roast, grind, and package it. We have established an infrastructure to track the energy requirements of our roasting and packaging operations in a new way that provides data that is more useful for monitoring energy use and helping employees run equipment more efficiently. We also mitigate the impact of direct energy use by purchasing renewable energy credits.
Brewer supply chain
Keurig® brewers are built by contract manufacturers in factories in China and Malaysia. The manufacturing process requires energy and water to create the raw materials, assemble, and package the brewers. Energy is also used to transport raw materials to the manufacturers and finished goods to our distribution centers.
After packaging, coffee is stored in a warehouse before being distributed. Environmental impacts of this stage include the energy use of warehouses and retail locations as well as fuel to transport the coffee to its destination and to transport consumers to retail locations.
Brewing a K-Cup® pack requires energy and water. However, when it comes to limiting coffee waste, single-cup brewing may minimize negative value chain impacts. About 12% to 15% of brewed batch coffee is thrown away without being served,** wasting resources used from cultivation to brewing.
*Chapagain, A.K., and Hoekstra, A.Y. (2007) The water footprint of coffee and tea consumption in the Netherlands, Ecological Economics 64(1): 109-118.
**Keurig/Godfrey Study Waste Coffee, May 2009.
Once a portion pack is used, the packaging and grounds must be disposed of. Three out of the four portion packs currently offered for use in Keurig® single cup brewers are recyclable. We are working to design a K-Cup® pack that can be easily separated and readily recycled, and we’re collaborating with recyclers and other partners to ensure the K-Cup® packs will be effectively recycled in the majority of community recycling programs.
To demonstrate our commitment, we set three bold targets, which we plan to achieve by 2020:
- 100% of K-Cup® packs will be recyclable.
- Reduce life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of brewed beverages by 25% versus a 2012 baseline.
- Achieve zero waste-to-landfill at our owned and operated manufacturing and distribution facilities.
As Keurig® beverage systems continue to grow in popularity, addressing their environmental impact, while continuing to deliver extraordinary beverages, is a critical priority for us. This is particularly true as we work to make 100% of K-Cup packs recyclable. To meet our 2020 target, we’re evaluating product development solutions and working with the recycling community and partners to ensure that our new K-Cup® pack design isn’t just recyclable in theory, but will also be able to be effectively recycled in the majority of community programs. Read more on our progress in the Reducing Product Waste section.
We strive to use resources efficiently in our operations and reduce our environmental impacts by focusing on energy use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and waste diversion. Read more on this work within the Our Operations section.