Single-Use Drink Pod Dilemma

Single-Use Drink Pod Dilemma

By:  Tony White Well, I’ve gone and done it again. I’ve become a consumer of a product without fully researching that product. The K-cup or single use drink pod. I know I’m way late to the party with this one.  In all fairness, I don’t drink coffee.  I was at the store looking for some variety in my ice tea hab… uh, we’ll call it… drink of choice when I saw they had K-cups for iced tea.  I thought, oh, this is great, I won’t have to lug my pitcher of tea with me to work every other day. It’ll be so convenient. When will I learn convenience comes with a price. It wasn’t until after I had dropped several of the used cups (yes, I emptied the tea leaves out first) into the recycling that I took the time to check for the recycling logo. Wait, there isn’t one?  That can’t be… my contacts must be dry and I’m just not seeing well enough to find it.  Surely a company in this day in age wouldn’t create a product like this that isn’t recyclable. That can’t be…. off to the interweb to find the facts. Sure enough.  Not recyclable. Now that’s not to say that the individual components aren’t recyclable.  The foil top, sure; the paper filter, sure; the grounds/tea leaves, sure, well compostable.  The little #7 plastic cup is even recyclable in a few jurisdictions. Keyword “few.” Now that you have to take the time to separate the parts, the “convenience” isn’t looking so good. America used enough K-cups last year to circle the equator almost 11 times. All that has gone into landfills. Now if you go to Keurig / Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc’s (GMCR owner of Keurig) website it seems as though they have their eyes set on sustainability.  They have set some lofty sustainability goals. They have even come out with the Keurig Vue.  The pods for this are #5 polypropelene plastic.  The parts still have to be dismantled, but the design makes it easier. See what I mean here. There are also a variety of reusable pods on the market.  I might give one of these a try although loose leaf tea sounds like a mess waiting to happen. Keurig/GMCR also has started their Grounds to Grow On program.  At the risk of sounding cynical, I’ll let you judge for yourself. Kudos for making an attempt though. Maddie Oatman has an article over at Mother Jones and makes some interesting points not only about recyclability of the K-cups, what competitors are doing, but she also has some interesting health points as well. In the meantime, Pinterest has some upcycling ideas for your K-cups. My mom always said, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

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