The Issue of Trying to Recycle K-Cups
There's probably very little green about your coffee, which is brown. In fact the one-cup capsules from Keurig coffee makers can't be recycled.
A Keurig coffee maker uses a single plastic capsule to make a hot cup of coffee. These single use coffee makers are very popular around the office or for people on the go, but the little K-Cup cannot be recycled.
Tons of paper, glass, and plastic runs across a conveyor every hour, but they don't want any of those coffee capsules.
"There's so much single-use material out there that all it does is create more and more waste," says Jose Menera, plant manager of Recycling Services.
Waste that needs to be thrown away, sent to the landfill and not put in the recycling bin.
"The speed of the conveyor is going to be very difficult to find a small item like that, to sort that material," says Jose Ysea of California Waste Management.
What's the problem? The plastic cups themselves could be recycled, but there's more to these capsules than meet the eye.
The plastic cup is lined with a heat-sealed paper filter, and topped with lined aluminum foil.
"When they're all fused together, they create a problem for the sorting facilities," says Menera.
Everything in these cartridges is recyclable - the plastic, the filter and the aluminum foil. But you put them all together in one item? It's a real problem.
"And this configuration with the paper fused to it and the foil glued to the top, it's just not an easy thing to do. It's impractical if not impossible to be able to try to recycle this thing," says Menera.
Keurig is aware of the problem, and on its website say it's looking for greener alternatives. But in the meantime, the convenience of that little cup of coffee will mean more waste in our local landfills.