You'll Be Amazed at How Many Times Single-Use Coffee Pod Waste Could Circle the Earth

Photo: littleny /

I know a lot of people love their Keurig machines, but I have yet to get a cup of coffee from one that wowed me. The coffee that comes from the machine at our Little League stand is always weak, and even the few cups I’ve had from my friend’s machine in her kitchen have been kind of blah.

Because of this, I’ve never been tempted to buy one of the machines that brews one cup of coffee at a time, but their popularity is growing, and so is the waste that the one-time use cups create.

The statistics on coffee pods, according to Mother Jones, should have our attention.

  • Consumers spent $3.1 billion in coffee pods last year, up from $132 million in 2008.
  • In 2013, Green Mountain (owner of Keurig) produced 8.3 billion single-use pods, called K-Cups, enough to wrap around the equator 10.5 times.
  • Currently, only 5 percent of Green Mountain’s coffee pods are recyclable.
Can you see the problem here? The waste from these single-use coffee pods is growing quickly. Keep in mind, these statistics are just for the pods that contain coffee. There are also hot chocolate pods, tea pods, apple cider pods, and soon there will be Campbell’s Soup pods

Keurig has plans to make all the K-Cups recyclable by 2020, and they’re currently looking for the right materials to keep the coffee inside fresh. There are other brands that currently make single-use pods using more environmentally-friendly methods, including Canterbury Coffee that makes ones that are 90-percent biodegradable and use fair trade and organic beans.

Keurig users who are conscious about waste don’t have to go with the single-use pods at all, though. Keurig makes a reusable filter for the single-serve coffee machines. You can buy your own beans, whole or already ground, and pack the filter with it. It might mean an extra step or two, but the waste savings will be worth it.