Canada, Colombia, Mexico, the Philippines, the U.S., and the U.K. are among countries that supply plastic cups, filter paper, and other materials for packaging Keurig’s® portion packs (see map at the end of this page). The materials produced for product packaging are then shipped to Keurig Green Mountain headquarters in Waterbury, Vermont (Creating Sustainable Products). Due to the energy and water used to make these packaging materials and the fuel used to transport the materials to Keurig’s® facilities, there are negative environmental impacts that result from the transportation of the materials alone. In addition, the materials used for the K-cups has been a source of great controversy since they were invented in the 1990s due to the fact that not all of them are biodegradable or recyclable (Rogers). However, Keurig® is working to lessen the impacts it and its products have on the environment.
The effort that Keurig® is putting forth to decrease the negative impacts it and its products have on the environment is reflected in its goals to achieve by the year 2020. These goals are to have 100% of K-Cup® packs be recyclable, to reduce life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of brewed beverages by 25% versus a 2012 baseline, and to achieve zero waste-to-landfill at its owned and operated manufacturing and distribution facilities (Creating Sustainable Products). Currently, Keurig’s® recyclable products are its Vue®, K-Carafe™, and Bolt® packs, but to meet its goal for 2020, Keurig® is continuing to evaluate solutions for the development of a more environment-friendly K-cup®, and it is working with recycling community partners to do so.
Keurig’s® pursuit of a more eco-friendly K-cup® is admirable and very good for the future of this planet, however it is difficult to say whether Keurig® is pursuing sustainability for the earth’s sake or for its own sake. Similar to its pursuit of coffee farming practices that are in line with environmental regulations, it’s likely that Keurig® is motivated by the positive publicity that comes with being a environmentally-conscious company. Keurig® is almost certainly aware that if it were to have no regard for the environment, there would be an uproar from nearly the entire consumer market and likely a subsequent boycott of its products.