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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 learn what we’re doing to address our environmental impacts.

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

Recyclable Materials
Our recyclable K-Cup® pods and other recyclable 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 United Kingdom, and the United States. 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 about 4% 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 various operations within our manufacturing facilities so we can set actionable goals, more closely monitor energy use, and run equipment more efficiently. We also mitigate the impact of direct energy use by purchasing renewable electricity.

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. We manage the environmental impact of that fleet by encouraging good driving habits, converting vehicles to propane fuel, and purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles when possible.

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 a Keurig® brewer could save about 6.6 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 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 Research Study on Waste Coffee, February 2016.

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

Recycling and Recovery
Our recyclable pods can be recycled in many community programs, and we offer a take-back program for business customers that converts used K-Cup® pods into alternative energy. We also work with retail partners to take back returned brewers for refurbishing or recycling.

End-Of-Life

Our recyclable K-Cup® pods and Vue®, K-Carafe®, and K-Mug pods all feature base cups made from polypropylene #5 plastic — a plastic widely accepted for recycling. Our aim is that by the end of 2018, all K-Cup® pods in Canada will be recyclable. We will continue to scale up production in the United States as well during 2018.

Our 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 represented an important step toward meeting our 2020 target of reducing life-cycle GHG emissions of brewed beverages. In fiscal 2017, we undertook an update of our GHG footprint. 

2020 Target: Reduce life-cycle GHG emissions of brewed beverages by 25% vs. 2012 baseline.

Fiscal 2016 progress

Target met! We will develop a new goal per an updated 2015 baseline while continuing to focus on operating efficiency and improved emissions measurement.

Our updated GHG footprint reflects changes in our business and refinements we’ve made to our calculation methodologies. The updated footprint showed that our absolute emissions decreased compared with fiscal 2012 and that we met our 2020 GHG reduction target in fiscal 2015. We are pleased to have achieved the target ahead of schedule, through a combination of energy management and sales growth. 

Our GHG footprint (shown below) details the impacts of our brewed beverages. Brewer energy use (in homes and workplaces) accounts for the largest portion of the footprint (30.9%), and our own operations (including roasting coffee, packaging lines, and offices) represent a small portion of the footprint (4.5%). Even though our production levels have increased, we held emissions from our operations relatively stable between the 2012 and 2015 baseline footprints.

Keurig Greenhouse Gas 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 Keurig® brewer than when they brew a full pot of coffee.
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.