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Update on a Recyclable K-Cup Pod

February 2, 2015

The recyclability of our K-Cup® pods is an issue we take very seriously.  We have a stated target to have 100% of our K-Cup® pods be recyclable by 2020, with incremental portions of the K-Cup® pods transitioning to a recyclable format each year between now and 2020.  

To achieve this we are focusing on three primary areas: the design of the pods, the development of recycling infrastructure, and the end market development for the materials. It’s a complex challenge, but we have already made headway with our K-Mug™, K-Carafe™, Vue®, and Bolt® pods, and we expect to make significant progress well before 2020.  Here are some additional milestones:

  • Currently, three out of the four pod types available for the Keurig 2.0 system are recyclable: We recently launched a recyclable K-Mug™ pod for the Keurig 2.0 system, and our K-Carafe™ and Vue® pods are also recyclable. They all use polypropylene (#5) plastic, which is accepted by 60% of communities in the U.S. and 93% of communities in Canada.  The pod’s plastic cup can be separated from the lid and filter for recycling.  
  • We’re expanding “take-back” programs to capture more used pods: While we address pod design, we’re also working to expand our take-back programs in workplaces and homes for areas where there is no municipal recycling.  Our current take-back program for office customers in the U.S collects brewed K-Cup® pods and grounds, and returns them to our disposal partner to turn them into alternative fuel.  This program has recovered millions of used K-Cup® pods, composting 358,000 pounds of coffee grounds and generating an estimated 586 kilowatt hours.  In Canada, collected brewed K-Cup® pods from Van Houtte Coffee Services Inc. customers are used as alternative fuel at the Holcim Canada cement plant in Joliette, Quebec, and at the Lafarge cement plant in Kamloops, British Columbia, reducing those plants’ reliance on traditional fuel sources. 
  • We’re investing to support more effective municipal recycling: We know we can only reach our 2020 target if the recycling infrastructure is strengthened overall, and we can’t tackle that alone.  Solutions will need to involve municipal governments, companies, consumers, and recyclers. We recently joined with Walmart, the Walmart Foundation, and other global companies in the Closed Loop Fund, with the goal of making recycling available to all Americans.  The Fund aims to invest $100 million in recycling infrastructure projects and spur private and public funding for transforming the recycling system in the United States.
It’s a tough challenge, but we’re committed to solving it, while still delivering the high-quality, great-tasting beverages that our consumers expect from us.  We promise to provide updates on our progress. More information can be found in our Sustainable Products section.

Updated: April 6, 2015

Tags: Sustainability