If you make a quick cup of coffee every morning in a Keurig or another instant brewer, then you probably go through a lot of plastic coffee pods. And those capsules are non-recyclable, so they pile up in your trash can—and the landfill thereafter. This wasteful process is why they've come under fire recently among critics, environmentalists, and even politicians. Yet the pre-portioned pods continue to sell nonetheless. To cut out what they see as completely unnecessary waste, some cities are getting rid of k-cups entirely.
It's an eerily close comparison to the U.S., where 13 percent of people drink coffee made from a single-cup brewer every day. But the kicker comes in the American market: K-cups and their competitors' pods account for more than a quarter of ground coffee sales.
But it's not just the Keurig at fault here. Coffee companies like Nespresso—who first sold the single-cup makers in 1986—also produce non-recyclable canisters for their grounds. And, because of their growing popularity—pod machines surpassed drip-coffee maker sales in 2013—the pods' environmental impact is of great concern. Add this to the fact that a whopping 2 billion cups of coffee are drunk around the world every single day and the looming repercussions are even more startling.
Quartz reports that even the creator of the K-cup has stopped using them out of guilt, saying that he "feels bad" about their wasteful impact. Of course, the company doesn't emphasize exactly how many pods it sells each year, but has estimated that it could be enough to circle the earth 12 times. Recognizing the potential consequences of this statistic, Keurig has since promised to make all of its single-serving cups recyclable by 2020. But that still hasn't stopped city lawmakers from cutting the cord completely.