Waste Generation from Pod-Style Coffee

The standard K-Cups is made up of several types of plastics, aluminum, a paper filter, and coffee grounds [1]. Please see the figure below which explains the functionality of a K-Cups: 


How the K-Cups Pod Works

Individually, the technology exists to recycle each component of the pod. While it is physically possible to recycle the material two major economic factors keep sending K-Cups to landfills. First, deconstructing and sorting of the pods is an incredible laborious and time-consuming process [2]. Every material needs to be recycled individually so the plant would be tasked with the following tasks for every individual pod: Removing aluminum lid, removing the paper filter, emptying out used coffee grounds, and separating and cleaning the different layers of plastic in the pod casing. There is currently no good way to perform these tasks on a large scale that would be efficient or cheap enough to recycle the massive number of pods being used daily [1]. 

[1] Keurig Recycling – Recyclable K-Cups Pods & Recycling Informationwww.keurig.com/recyclable.

[2] Lidplussdesign. “Frequently Asked Questions About Coffee Pod Recycling.” Recycle A Cupwww.recycleacup.com/faqs/#1445880808123-37ddb3bc-b226.