To start, the recyclable K-Cup® pods will be available on Keurig.com or from an authorized distributor. Additionally, the recyclable K-Cup® pods will be easily identifiable by on-the-box packaging and a “#5” recycling symbol on the bottom of the pod itself.
You can use four different pod types in your Keurig® 2.0 brewer: K-Cup® pods, K-Mug® pods, K-Carafe® pods, and Vue® pods. Of those formats, the K-Mug®, K-Carafe®, and Vue® select K-Cup® pods are recyclable. The cup of our new recyclable K-Cup® pod is constructed of polypropylene #5 plastic which is recyclable in the majority of communities in the U.S. and Canada and can be easily identified through our on-the-box packaging and with a #5 recycling symbol on the bottom of the pod itself.
The plastic cup used in our K-Mug®, K-Carafe®, and Vue®, and select K-Cup® pods is made of polypropylene (#5) plastic, which you can separate from the lid and filter and recycle wherever #5 plastic is accepted. Polypropylene (#5) plastic is currently accepted for recycling in approximately 60 percent of communities in the United States and 93% of communities in Canada. We recommend checking with your local municipality or waste hauler to determine if your community recycles #5 plastic.
It’s a complex challenge. We’re committed to ensuring all new K-Cup® pods will deliver the same great beverage taste and work consistently in all Keurig® hot brewers – old and new alike. In 2016, we introduced our first recyclable K-Cup® pod on Keurig.com. Today, we’re transitioning each of our 100+ production lines and our supply chain partners – the actual manufacturers of the cup portion of our pods – are ramping up their production capacity. We’ll roll the change through as quickly as possible and in a way that ensures a smooth and orderly transition for our more than 75 brands and 500 varieties across all of our distribution and sales channels.
We’re also committed to delivering a pod that not only is recyclable but that actually gets recycled. We’ve been working extensively with plastics and recycling experts to demonstrate that the new recyclable K-Cup® pod can be sorted with existing recycling infrastructure. We expect to learn a lot through these partnerships and will bring these learnings to our customers, partners, and retailers as we continue on our journey to make 100 percent of K-Cup® pods recyclable by 2020.
Our original K-Cup® pods are classified as “#7 – OTHER” because the cup is made from a multi-layer blend of plastic and additional attached material. The cup of our new recyclable K-Cup® pod is made from polypropylene #5 plastic. Polypropylene performs well in our brewing system, and the material is in high demand by end-market manufacturers since it can be used for a wide variety of products. We expect to learn a lot through the production, use, and recycling of our new K-Cup® pod and will bring these learnings to our customers, partners, and retailers as we continue on our journey to make 100 percent of K-Cup® pods recyclable .
It depends on the Keurig® brewer used by the customer.
Customers with Keurig® brewer models that offer automatic K-Cup® pod ejection with a built-in disposal bin, including the K3000 series, may find our take back program still the best option.
Customers with Keurig® brewer models without the built-in disposal bin could choose to make educational signage available to their consumers to encourage recycling.
Yes. The process is the same for any K-Cup® pod that goes into them. Grounds to Grow On™ converts the used pods to compost and energy, and Pods to Power converts the pods to energy.
The programs are designed for our #7 plastic K-Cup® pods and the process is the same for any K-Cup® pod that goes into them. Grounds to Grow On™ converts the used pods to compost and energy, and Pods to Power converts the pods to energy.
We encourage customers to separate and recycle the recyclable #5 plastic pods when possible.
What progress are you making in developing a recyclable K-Cup® pod?
Keurig Green Mountain is committed to making all K-Cup® pods recyclable, and we are excited to have achieved our first commercial milestone in mid-2016 with the introduction of our first K-Cup® pods in the recyclable format in our Away From Home and Keurig.com channels.
We learned a lot from that initial manufacturing phase, and will now work to broaden the availability of recyclable K-Cup® pods until our 2020 milestone. We expect to gain valuable learnings from each of these rollouts to continue to improve upon our product and the consumer’s experience.
Here are some additional examples of our progress:
- We’ve ensured that the majority of pod types in our Keurig 2.0 system are recyclable: Within the Keurig 2.0 system, our K-Mug™, K-Carafe™, and Vue® and select K-Cup® pods are recyclable. The BOLT® pods for offices are also recyclable. And we are working on transitioning our K-Cup® pods to the same polypropylene (#5) plastic.
- We’re continuing to offer “take-back” programs to capture more used pods: We’re working to make our take-back programs in workplaces easier to use. Our current take-back programs for office customers in the U.S and Canada have collected millions of brewed K-Cup® pods and grounds, and returned them to our disposal partner to convert them to compost and energy.
- 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. We joined with Walmart, the Walmart Foundation, and other global companies in the Closed Loop Fund. 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.
Why are you focusing on polypropylene (#5) plastic?
Polypropylene (#5) plastic is a commonly recycled plastic in the U.S., and is already used in making common household items like yogurt and butter containers, water filters, lip balm tubes, and take-out boxes. We believe polypropylene (#5) is the best candidate to perform well in our brewing system. Polypropylene also has good potential for long-term demand in the recycling stream.
Are you considering a biodegradable or compostable cup?
We explored a variety of solutions, but we haven’t yet found a biodegradable or compostable material for our pods with the barrier properties to allow us to maintain quality and freshness, and that performs well in our brewers. Because coffee is a perishable product, the materials we use need to prevent oxygen, light, and moisture from degrading the coffee.
In addition, most compostable products currently in the marketplace require sophisticated municipal or industrial facilities which are not common across the United States and don’t degrade in home settings. Most consumers in the U.S. (94 percent) have access to recycling, but only 1 percent have access to the right type of composting facility required of most certified compostable pods. This is similar in Canada with 98 percent access to recycling and, again, 1 percent access to industrial composting facilities. This means the majority of “compostable” pods is going to landfill or mistakenly to home composting and will not degrade.
We believe the infrastructure around recycling is stronger, and therefore we wanted to ensure we selected a pod material that had strong value to recyclers and strong potential to find a second life in another product.
In addition to ongoing work to catalyze recycling infrastructure advancements, we continue to explore a variety of material and design innovations. As access to and recovery rates for compostable or biodegradable materials increase, we will be able to offer those solutions to consumers.
Is there a My K-Cup® Reusable Filter for the Keurig® 2.0 system?
Yes, the My K-Cup® Reusable Coffee Filter has been redesigned to work with Keurig 2.0 Brewing Technology™, which enables the brewer to recognize the inserted Keurig® pod. We also offer a My K-Cup® that is compatible with our original Keurig® K-Cup® brewers. It is available for sale on Keurig.com here
What type of plastic is the K-Cup® pod made from?
The plastic cups in our K-Cup® pods are made with layers of varying materials, which qualify them as #7. The inside layers are polyethylene, which is one of the most common plastic food packaging materials used today. The plastic cup of our new recyclable K-Cup® pod is constructed from polypropylene which is recyclable in the majority of communities in the U.S. and Canada and easily identified with a #5 marked on the plastic cup.
Why did you dicontinue your mailback program with Preserve's Gimme 5
Since we began working with Preserve’s Gimme 5 program for our Vue® pods in 2013, curbside access to recycling for #5 plastics has increased significantly. With increased access, we are now asking that beginning in April 2016 you drop your brewed Vue® pods in your regular curbside recycling, after removing the lid and coffee grounds, rather than mailing them back through the Preserve program. Please check with your local community to confirm.
Are the new recyclable K-Cup® pods recyclable everywhere?
The new recyclable K-Cup® pods, which can be easily identified through our on-the-box packaging and with a #5 recycling symbol on the bottom of the pod itself, can be recycled in communities that accept #5 plastics. Polypropylene (#5) plastic is currently accepted for recycling in approximately 61% of communities in the U.S. and 93% of communities in Canada. Please check with your local community to confirm.
Does the filter have to be removed from the pod when recycling?
No, the filter does not need to be removed.
Does the plastic used for the cups contain BPA?
Our pods do not contain BPA. All specifications for our products require that they be constructed using only industry standard materials that meet or exceed Food & Drug Administration guidelines for product safety.
How can I learn more?
The recyclability of our K-Cup®
pods is an issue we take very seriously. More information can be found on Keurig.com/Recyclable
and at KeurigGreenMountain.com/Sustainability