Unless you are a die-hard traditionalist, you have used a Keurig coffee maker to brew a cup of coffee sometime in the past 10 years. The single-serving K-cup pods are found everyone from quick oil change places to office buildings to home kitchens because they are so convenient and easy to use. Not only is each K-cup portioned for a perfectly sized single serving, but you can brew a wide variety of different types of coffee one after another – something that is not so easy to do with more traditional brewing methods.
K-cups have a downside, however, and that is waste. The individual cups are not recyclable and we are producing a whole lot of them, as the coffee pods are more popular than ever before – and there is no sign of the trend slowing down any time soon. The inventor of the K-cup, John Sylvan, now says that the waste makes him regret ever inventing them.
As he explains the appeal now, “It’s like a cigarette for coffee, a single-serve delivery mechanism for an addictive substance.” But he had no idea at the time how ubiquitous the product would become.
It isn’t the fact that he sold his company to Green Mountain for $50,000 in 1997 (perhaps he does, however there were many other unsuccessful pod designs on the market at that time) – it’s the fact that the pods were so extremely successful, that they generate more waste than he could initially have imagined. Sylvan also says that he designed a more eco-friendly option, but that Green Mountain didn’t want anything to do with it.
Fortunately for the rest of us, Green Mountain says (and hopefully it’s true) that they have a biodegradable and/or recyclable packaging option in the works, though it’s release is at least a few years away.