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Sustainability

Understanding our impacts

From the design of our beverage systems and the cultivation of coffee and tea, all the way through end-of-life disposal, we aim to understand our impacts and leave communities and people better off as the result of our business. We use tools such as life-cycle assessments and greenhouse gas (GHG) and water footprinting to achieve a good understanding of the impacts our products have across the value chain. We use that knowledge to improve our decision-making so our products become more sustainable over time.

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Our Value Chain

EXPLORE
Cultivation & Processing
Product Packaging
Operations
Brewer Supply Chain
Distribution
Consumption/Use
End of Life

There are seven basic stages in our value chain related to coffee and brewing systems. Explore each stage and what we're doing to address our environmental impacts.

Materials produced for product packaging
Materials shipped to Keurig Green Mountain facilities

Recyclable Materials
Our Vue®, K-Carafe,
K-Mug, and recyclable K-Cup® pods feature a base cup made from polypropylene #5 plastic, which is accepted for recycling in the majority of communities in the United States and Canada.

Product Packaging

Plastic cups, filter paper, and other materials for packaging our beverage pods 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.

Our Footprint
Our operations — including offices and roasting and packaging facilities — represent just 2.5% of our greenhouse gas footprint and less than 1% of our blue water footprint (surface or groundwater consumed).

Operations

When green coffee arrives at our facilities, we roast, grind, and package it. We are establishing an infrastructure to track the energy use of our roasting operations in a 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.

Responsible, Quality Products
We work closely with the contract manufacturers that build our Keurig® brewers on issues related to our Responsible Sourcing Supplier Guidelines, product quality, and new manufacturing technologies.

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.

Transportation
Our Canadian operations own and operate a fleet of vehicles to serve away-from-home customers. By encouraging good driving habits, converting vehicles to propane fuel, and purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles when possible, we have reduced the greenhouse gas emissions of that fleet by nearly 18% since 2013.

Distribution

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.

Single-Cup Brewing
When considering the water required to grow, process, and brew coffee beans, brewing only one beverage at a time as needed with the Keurig® hot platform could save about 6 gallons of water per 8 oz. cup, compared with brewing a full pot.*

Consumption/Use

Brewing a K-Cup®pod requires energy and water. However, when it comes to limiting coffee waste, single-cup brewing may minimize negative value chain impacts. Typically, 15% of a pot of coffee is thrown out,** wasting the coffee, the water, and all of the underlying resources that went into making it.
*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 Study on Waste Coffee, February 2016.

By 2020, 100% of K-Cup® pods will be recyclable.

Recycling and Recovery
Where available, our recyclable pods can be recycled in community programs. We also offer a Brewer Returns program and take-back programs for business customers, which convert used K-Cup® pods into alternative energy.

End-Of-Life

Our Vue®, K-Carafe®, and K-Mug pods all feature a lid and filter paper that peels away from the base of the cups, which are made from polypropylene — a plastic widely accepted for recycling. Recyclable K-Cup® pods have started rolling off our production lines — with the first ones available for purchase on Keurig.com in 2016.

Our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Footprint

In fiscal 2014, we conducted a comprehensive GHG footprint of our coffee value chain — from cultivation of coffee beans through brewer use and product end-of-life — to more fully understand our impact and identify areas where we can focus reduction efforts and engagement. This footprinting exercise represents an important step toward meeting our 2020 target of reducing life-cycle GHG emissions of brewed beverages.

Our GHG footprint details the impacts of our brewed beverages, with brewer energy use accounting for the largest portion of the footprint and our own operations (including roasting coffee, packaging lines, and offices) representing the smallest portion.


GHG Footprint
Life-Cycle Assessments

To ensure scientific rigor in the way we approach product stewardship, we conduct life-cycle assessments (LCAs) for many of our products to better comprehend environmental performance throughout their life cycles. We take all impacts seriously and use LCAs as one of several key tools to identify phases in our value chain with the most significant environmental impacts. These analyses help us target our efforts in the areas with the greatest potential for improvement.

K-Cup® Pod LCA

A few years ago, we conducted an LCA of our coffee K-Cup® pods, evaluating them across all stages of their life cycle, from cultivation of coffee beans through end-of-life. We estimated the environmental impacts, including global warming potential (GHG emissions) and primary energy demand.
Through this 2012 analysis, we learned that the disposal of the product packaging after use of a K-Cup® pod represents a relatively small portion of the total environmental impact. Significant impacts occur in the cultivation of coffee beans, use of brewing systems, and the material used in product packaging. We also learned that, compared with other coffee systems2 that brew a full pot of coffee, the Keurig® brewing system uses less energy. On average, when compared with batch brewers, customers waste less brewed coffee when they use a single serve.
K-Cup pod Life-Cycle Assessment

1GHG is a measure of the emissions that lead to the greenhouse effect (global warming potential). Primary Energy Demand, while not a true environmental impact category, shows the total amount of energy that is being extracted from the earth or produced via renewable methods.
2For this study, we compared our brewers against top competitors. We compared our Away-From-Home brewer with similar models from BUNN and FETCO, and we compared our At-Home brewer with Mr. Coffee DW13.