A Detailed Guide on Recycling K Cups Coffee pod

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Johny Morrisson

Have you ever considered the environmental impact of those convenient little Coffee K-Cups that bring us our daily dose of coffee?

While they may seem harmless, these single-use coffee pods actually contribute to a significant waste problem. 

Billions of these disposable pods find their way into landfills every year, enough to circle the earth 10.5 times. And as most of them are made of plastic, it’s no wonder that they pose a threat to our environment and wildlife.

In this article, I will guide you through the process of recycling K cups and the alarming reality of K-Cup waste. So, let’s get started! 

Recycling K Cups

Key Takeaways:

  • K-cup Coffee pods are made of #5 Plastic and are recyclable in some communities.
  • You have to separate all the components of K cups to recycle them separately
  • The best environmentally friendly solution is to switch to My K cup coffee filter

Are K-Cups Actually Recyclable?

Since 2020, Keurig has switched to recyclable polypropylene (#5 plastic) instead of non-recycleable #7 plastic. But the main concern is for recycling a K-Cup, one must remove the foil and completely empty the contents. While this may seem like a simple task, in reality, many people still throw away the cups as it is.

In addition, even though K-cup packaging is labeled as 100% recyclable, #5 plastic is not recyclable in most communities.

It is unfortunately not feasible to recycle K-Cups in their entirety due to their small structure. This means that even if you dispose of them in the appropriate recycling bin, there is no guarantee that they will actually be recycled.

In 2015, Keurig produced a staggering 9.8 billion non-biodegradable cups and Each cup takes approximately 500 years to break down.

Can I put coffee pods in my recycling bin?

No, if you want to recycle coffee pods you can directly put them into the recycling bin. The K cups are made of mixed materials i.e., aluminum foil, coffee grounds inside it, and the plastic cup. To prepare K cups for recycling you have to completely clean and separate all the parts of the K cup before putting them into the recycling bin.

How to Recycle a K-Cup?

Here’s a simple step-by-step guide for recycling K cup Coffee pods

1. Peel off the foil

The first step is to remove the aluminum foil from the top. You can store the aluminum foil for separate recycling.

This process can be done more easily and quickly with the Recycle a K cup tool.

recycle a k cup

2. Get the filter and coffee grounds out

After removing the foil, the next step is to separate the filter and coffee grounds from the plastic cup. You can compost the paper and coffee grinds.

Here are some creative uses for spent coffee grounds

3. Wash and dispose

Once you have removed the foil, filter, and coffee grounds, you are left with a clean plastic cup that you can send to recycling centers.

Prior to recycling, ensure your local recycling center accepts K-Cups, as recycling capabilities may vary. 

Proper cleaning of Plastic K cups is very important otherwise most recycling centers will dump it into the waste.

Some Other ways to recycle a K-cup

Although #5 Plastic is recyclable but currently it is not accepted at all the recycling centers. So, here are some other ways to recycle K-cup coffee pods.

But these solutions will cost you some bucks.

1- K cycle Recycling Program

Keurig K-Cycle Recycling Program is the best way to make sure that every K-Cup pod is fully recycled.

You just have to place an order for K-cycle recycling bins and discard the used coffee pods into them. There is no need for separating all the components and proper cleaning of pods.

The plastic and aluminum are recycled by Keurig and paper filters and coffee grounds are used as organic compost.

There are two pricing options for this service:

  • A pack of 5 small recycle bins with a capacity of 175 K-Cup pods per bin will cost $119.95
  • A pack of 5 large recycle bins with a capacity of 450 K-Cup pods per bin will cost $169.95

This way you will spend around a cent for recycling one K cup

2- Order Terracycle Wastebox

Terracycle provides a convenient and comprehensive recycling solution for hard-to-recycle waste materials.

The Terracycle Waste Box is essentially a recycling collection container specifically designed to hold small plastic items like coffee capsules, snack wrappers, beauty product packaging, etc.

For recycling coffee pods, you can order “Coffee Capsules – Zero Waste Box“. You don’t need to empty and clean the coffee pods.

There are three sizes available small, medium, and large. The small box is available for $121 and it can hold around 350 used K cup pods.

Both these solutions are perfect for Office and Commercial use. For home use, you can switch to reusable filters.

Try Composatable K cup Pod

Compostable K-cup coffee pods are a smart choice for both your daily brew and the environment.

These eco-friendly pods are made from biodegradable materials like paper, bamboo, or cornstarch, making them a responsible alternative to traditional plastic and aluminum options.

Compostable pods break down naturally, reducing waste and leaving behind nutrient-rich soil.

Companies like San Francisco Bay Coffee and Cameron’s Coffee offer excellent compostable K-cup options that don’t compromise on flavor while keeping the environment in mind.

While they are a more sustainable option, some users have reported that they lack freshness and can sometimes explode inside the machine, causing leaks.

Check out best environmentally friendly biodegradable k cups

Use Reusable K-Cup Coffee Pods (The most environmentally friendly option)

Even if a recycling center accepts polypropylene, you must remove the foil lid, dispose of the interior filter and coffee grounds, and ensure the pod is free from coffee residue for effective recycling. 

This seems like a very hectic task so in my opinion, using reusable My K cup coffee filters is the best option because of two reason

1- It’s Cheaper

Most K cups of coffee pods will cost you around $0.4 to $0.7 and have around 9 to 12 grams of coffee. That means 1 kg of coffee grounds from K cups will cost around 60 to 70 dollars depending on the coffee pod.

On the other hand, you can easily buy good quality coffee grounds for 20 to 40 dollars per kg.

So, you can easily cut down your daily coffee cost to half by using M K cup coffee filters.

Furthermore, you have the flexibility to brew the drink with your favorite coffee grounds.

2- It’s more environmentally friendly

Although #5 Plastic is recyclable but as mentioned earlier only a small portion of it is being recycled currently.

So even if you dispose of the plastic K cups properly there is a chance that they still end up in landfill.

That’s why “My K cup coffee filter” is the best choice since the only waste it generates is paper filters and used coffee grounds, both of which can easily be composted.

Universal reusable my K cups

Final Thoughts

In the end, one thing is abundantly clear, you can’t ignore the environmental impact of these seemingly harmless K-cup coffee pods.

While efforts have been made to make K-Cups recyclable, the reality is that the majority of these pods still end up in landfills due to various challenges in the recycling process.

The most sustainable solution lies in embracing reusable K-Cup coffee pods. By opting for these eco-friendly alternatives, we can significantly reduce plastic waste and contribute to a greener future. It’s time for a change!

All in all, the choice is in our hands. It’s up to each of us to weigh the convenience against the environmental impact and make a conscious decision. Let’s take the step towards change and choose reusable K-Cup coffee pods to enjoy the best of both worlds – convenience and environmental responsibility.

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Do you have to remove the filter to recycle K-Cups?

It is usually necessary to completely remove the coffee grounds and paper filter and clean the plastic coffee pods before sending them to a local recycling center.
However, it’s always best to call your local recycling center beforehand and ask all your questions to check whether they accept the coffee pods or not.

Are K-Cups reusable?

Yes, you can reuse K cups for brewing another cup of coffee. To begin, you must clean the coffee pod, then add fresh coffee grounds and cover it with aluminum foil.
Apart from that you can also reuse K cups in various creative ways.
Here’s a complete guide on reusing K cup coffee pods.

Is the foil on K-Cups recyclable?

The foil lid on K-Cups is made of aluminum, which is a recyclable material.
The recycling process and guidelines for aluminum foil vary in different locations. Some recycling programs accept aluminum foil as part of their regular recycling stream, while others require it to be separated or put into a special bin.

Johny Morrison is a founder and content creator at Coffee About. He knows everything there is to know about coffee and loves sharing his passion with others.

You can often find him sipping a single-origin pour-over, rich French press, or pulling espresso shots at home. Johny loves full-bodied dark roasts – the bolder, the better!

As a former barista, he takes coffee equipment seriously and enjoys experimenting with the latest gear. When he’s not brewing or blogging, Johny is scouting local cafes for his next coffee fix.

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