Coffee Machine Maker In Hot Water Over Plastic Cups

56630814 Coffee Machine Maker In Hot Water Over Plastic Cups

Plastic cups sit with a single-cup coffee machine made by Keurig. (credit: Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Environmentalists are saying that a popular coffee machine comes with an additional cost.

Coffee machine maker Keurig promises a single-cup serving of piping hot coffee in just minutes. They offer a full selection of K-Cup varieties for use with the single-serving machines, and major coffee suppliers like Duncan Donuts are now rolling out their own K-Cup offerings. A quick glance at Sunday’s circulars — with Keurig machines on the front covers — is another great indication of just how popular this trend is becoming.

Customers love the convenience of brewing a fresh cup of coffee every single time. But each of those cups of coffee are brewed in a small disposable plastic cup, and that is troubling to environmentalists like Cindy Luppi of Clean Water Action.

“Our concern is that they are not recyclable,” Luppi said. “That means they end up in the landfills and incinerators, and impact our health. The emissions end up in the air we breathe and the water we drink.”

With the number of cups now being tossed into the trash reaching into the billions, a lot of plastic is not being recycled.

“It’s hard to recycle because of the multiple materials,” explained Luppi. First, there is the plastic cup. Then, there is an aluminum foil top that keeps the coffee fresh inside of the K-Cup. Also inside of the K-Cup is a separate filter. “It’s also typically too small to be recycled,” Luppi said. “The trend is that larger materials are accepted typically in recycling programs.”

Keurig has posted a statement about the environmental issue on the company’s website. “Finding a more environmentally-friendly approach to this packaging challenge is a big priority for us,” Keurig’s online statement reads. “We are working on a few different fronts to improve the environmental characteristics of the K-Cup system.”

Even a typical pot of coffee — and its paper filter — create some waste. But environmentally conscious gardeners can use the grounds in compost.

Meanwhile, there are a few products available on the market which can help consumers recycle their K-Cups (for example, My K-Cup and My-Kap). These products involve reusable filters that coffee drinkers pack each time.

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  • Barry Leonard

    The Kruerig coffee Brewer comes with a plastic reuseable brewing cup with washable filter. with this brewer one can use any coffet grounds without any danger to Envirement…someone needs to do a bit more research.

    • OMG

      Jesus… forget research. You need to concentrate on getting an education so you can spell. Or go to the doctor – you may be having a stroke.

  • Shep

    “Our concern is that they are not recyclable,”(yes) Luppi said. “That means they end up in the landfills(yes) and incinerators(no), and impact our health(no). The emissions end up in the air we breathe(no) and the water we drink(no).”

    Miss Loopie needs to do her homework on the disposition of household waste. Yes, current k-cups are not recyclable, but consumers pay a premium for that convenience. Keurig does offer a reusable filter that let’s you load your own fresh coffee, for the environmentally conscious.

  • Richard

    I use the reusable “My K Cup” with regular drip decaf coffee. One refill to 3 large cups of coffee. A lot less grounds than my old drip coffee maker. It is easy to dump the grounds into a flower pot and wash out the screen.
    I am so lucky to have a fantastic wife and son who got it for me for Fathers day.

  • Stephanie I

    The cost of a reusable K cup is only a little more than the cost of a large box of the individual cups (I bought mine at Walmart). Like Richard above said, the reusable uses noticeably less grounds then even my peculator, and there’s no wait for my cop o’ joe. We use our Keurig everyday, guilt free with our reusable filter.

  • Harvey

    Leave us to hell alone and let us have our coffee. The world is gonna end Oct 21 so forget this.

    • C Bauer

      LOL. True. Well, maybe not October 21, but eventually, when the world economy collapses, all currency is worthless, and riots have killed off 90% of the world’s population and the survivors are reduced to living in caves and foraging for food, they’ll look back and relish the days when one could have a plastic pod o’ coffee, wash the dishes with harsh detergents using copious amounts of electricity, and drive through a restaurant to get a meal in less than a minute. Those were the days, as Archie and Edith Bunker were so fond of singing.

  • Lisa

    Ditto for Richard, Barry, and Stephanie. Try reporting fairly and not just the negative side.

  • Nancy

    When you want to stop all the other unrecyclable items that gets thrown in the trash like the new eco friendly light bulbs full of mercury, the old tennis shoes, the ink off the print on grocery boxes that cannot be recycled, and the list goes on and on….leave my Keurig alone. It is my one pleasure in life and I am keeping it. Just because something is recyclable does not mean it ends up in the recycle bin. Also, I do put the grounds in my flowerbed.

    • CSB

      Those eco-friendly mercury-filled bulbs! LOL. Oh, the irony in that. VIVA INCANDESCENT BULBS!

  • Hootex

    Why is this news? Important things going on locally and in the world and we’re spending time on drivel like this!

  • Dale

    Seriously, this is pretty bad reporting. Guess CBS News is totally out of anyone to sling mud at so picked on Keurig. I love their coffee – makes the perfect cup every morning for me. The comments above says it all.

    • Walter Krunkite

      There goes your Keurig advertising, and any company linked to Keurig. Nice work destroying your ad revenue, CBS11!

  • mechelle

    Solofill and Eccobrew are reusable K-cup alternatives.

  • Marsha Powell

    Maybe now you should be checking on Morningstar Foods in Sulphur Springs. They use those type of little cups with their International Delights coffee creamers.

  • Serg

    One cup at the time, saves water. The reason I switched to K is because i used to brew more coffee than I needed. Even me a recycling green freak did not like the idea of conventional coffee makers, k is a great option for me, I dont waste water, energy or coffee, i am saving money and the environment.

  • Serg

    Is everyone here unemployed? it sure looks like that by posting comments from early morning to early afternoon. lol

    • Jew Boy

      You posted at 3:18. Where are you? Oh, by the way, people have computers at work, genius. LOL @ U, loser.

      By the way, NOBODY is saving the environment. Go watch George Carlin’s rant about that on YouTube. It’s so true. Ciao, you Eastern European schlub.

  • RebekahN

    Worse than the cups are that the machines only last between 18 months to 2 years and are unrepairable. The machine has to be thrown out and replaced. Google the reviews on them and you’ll see that the people who swear by them are willing to buy another machine and toss their old one into the land fill with all of their plastic cups.

  • Jimbo

    I use the Ekobrew for my Keurig Machine. I got it on This thing is awesome. I is eco friendly and saves me money on my per cup cost. K-cups are .75 per cup. With the Ekobrew I can use my local coffee companies coffee and it comes to .20 per cup. So I am not filling landfill space and saving money. This is a Win Win.

    Save the world from trash…get an Ekobrew.

  • Rick McDaniel

    Stupid, is about all you can say for this product.

  • Mike

    bought one today at target! look forward to helping occupy landfills with my plastic cups

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