The Keurig K-Cup Konundrum
OFFICES, HOMES, STARBUCKS and DUNKIN’ DONUTS NATIONWIDE — You’ve all seen them. You may have one in your home. Maybe there’s one in the breakroom at your workplace. They are easy to use, require almost no maintenance or cleaning and can have you sipping your morning joe before you can say “America Runs on Dunkin’.”
The Keurig single-cup coffee brewer is perhaps the best example of American lust — almost exclusively sated at the expense of the environment — for all things cheap and convenient.
Keurig claims a pretty significant market share in the coffee world. According to its corporate profile, 2.5 million K-cup beverages are brewed in the homes and offices of North America daily, more than 2 billion of the tiny cups have been used since 1998 and 200,000 offices in North America have Keurig systems, boasting 6 percent of all coffee brewed in offices every day.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR, on its official letterhead) in Vermont is the exclusive distributor of the Keurig K-cups and it offers more than 200 varieties of coffee, tea, hot cocoa, cider, and iced beverages in wasteful one-serving cups. While the company enjoys a very “green” public perception, the K-cup seems to be the antithesis to sustainability. ecoRI News contacted GMCR’s vice president of corporate and social responsibility, Michael Dupee, to talk about the K-cup impact on our landfill and about the company’s green initiatives.
Dupee said that, when GMCR acquired Keurig, the sustainability of the K-cup became a high priority because, “We can’t ignore consumer perception, but it is a difficult technical challenge to create a package that is airtight, blocks light, and has the required thermal properties and rigidity necessary to function in the brewer.”
The company recently completed a life-cycle analysis on the K-cups, which is now being vetted by a third party.
For a continuation of this article and more information on GMCR’s green initiaves go to: http://www.ecori.org/front-page-journal/2011/10/11/the-keurig-k-cup-konundrum.html
By DAVE FISHER/ecoRI News staff