Can You Recycle Keurig K-Cups Or Will They Always Remain An Environmental Disaster?

Keurig coffee makers and other machines like it have taken over our kitchens replacing the old-fashioned coffee brewers that took far to long to brew our much needed coffee. After we use these new and quick coffee making machines, however, there is no instructions on how to dispose the single-serve K-Cup pod or coffee making slug. So most of these quick and easy coffee making pods end up in the regular ol’ trash.


Like plastic water bottles, K-Cups have a horrible effect on our planet. In 2014 it was said that the number of K-Cup pods trashed in 2013 could circle the Earth 10.5 times. It’s now 2017 and the 2013 estimate is horribly out of date. According to the NPD Group, in 2016, it was estimated that as many as 40% of Canadians had a single-serve coffee machine in their homes.

These machines are not just in homes, they are in businesses across the globe, where large portions of K-Cup pods get dumped daily!

Can you recycle the K-Cup?

The single-serve pod components are potentially recyclable but only if they are separated. The K-pod consists of a “combination of plastic, aluminum, organic material (coffee grounds), and a paper filer. While all of the items listed above are recyclable, when the K-cup pod is left as a whole, it is not. With 40% of Canadians using this machine daily, that means a lot of non-recyclable material is being thrown in the trash, and carried to the hazardous landfills.

In 2015, the K-Cup inventor John Sylvan had expressed his regret at having invented something that has become so harmful to the environment. While that’s nice to hear, it’s not going to fix the problem.

Recyclable K-Cups


In 2016, Keurig began to make “recyclable K-Cups” for the consumers. But of course this is only for “select K-Cup pods”. The only recyclable K-Cup pods are the ones with the #5 on the bottom. With these pods you can peel the top, empty the used coffee grounds into the compost, and recycle them empty cup.

For those K-Cup pods that do not have the #5 on the bottom, there is a solution called recycle a cup. It is a small device that helps you to take the components a part and put them in the proper recyclable area. You can watch a video on how it works here:

It has yet to be verified whether this device actually works, but it is a great example of a company being innovative and trying to help the environment, although it may just be producing another plastic device that will end up in the trash.

However, even with efforts made by Keurig and recycle a cup, K-Cup pods are still not reusable, and Keurig is still producing an insane amount of plastic each year.

There is one solution so far that we have found and that is the Just A Cup® filter by Medelco . This is a reusable single serve coffee pod that is designed to work in your Kurig, Breville, Cuisinart, or Mr. Coffee single serve brewing machines. You can check out these products here.

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