Keurig’s pod-less coffee pods could keep millions from landfill

Keurig k-rounds falling into recycling bin
Pictured: Keurig K-Rounds falling into recycling bin
// That's how you brew it
Anula Wiwatowska
Mar 14, 2024
Icon Time To Read2 min read

In a sustainability push, American coffee giant Keurig has today announced its plan to make coffee pods pod-less. Rather than relying on plastic and aluminium, Keurig's new K-Rounds are made of ground coffee, wrapped in a plant-based coating.

Consumer uptake and attitudes are pending, but this switch could result in tens of thousands metric tonnes of pods saved from landfill annually. Globally, coffee pods account for 576,000 metric tonnes of garbage every year- Australia contributes around 8,500 tonnes of that, which is around 2.4 million cups of coffee. Comparatively, Keurig alone services 45 million North Americans; at two cups of coffee per day that is 31,875 tonnes from the caffiend itself.

Currently K-Cup pods - the enduring pod system - are made of a combination of plastic and aluminium, and are not dissimilar to Nespresso. While Nespresso has had a recycling program for quite some time, K-Cups have only been fully recycleable since the end of 2020. Even then, reports show that most recycling facilities can’t sort items that small and these pods are still ending up back in landfill.

Despite the sustainability push, K-Rounds won’t be backwards compatible and would require users to buy the new Keurig Alta Brewer. This will still support the original K-Cups so the extent of the environmental success will be dependent on consumer's tastes. Notably K-Rounds will be able to brew espresso alongside other more traditional American coffee types like filter, and the Americano.

While the pod-less alternatives were announced today they are not yet available to the public and likely won’t be for some time. Keurig announced that it will begin beta testing the new pods in Quarter 3 but no release date has been set.

More than 40% of American households owned a pod machine in 2020, and they are similarly ubiquitous in Australia. According to the 2019 National Coffee study, 48% of Australians own a pod coffee machine but attitudes are shifting more towards sustainability. All levels of Australian capsule coffee sellers are exploring sustainable packaging alternatives, from big players like Coles through to independent online retailers.

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Anula Wiwatowska
Written by
Anula Wiwatowska
Anula is the Content and Social Media Editor within the extended universe. Working in the tech space since 2020, she covers phone and internet plans, gadgets, smart devices, and the intersection of technology and culture. Anula was a finalist for Best Feature Writer at the 2022 Consensus Awards, and an eight time finalist across categories at the IT Journalism Awards. Her work contributed to WhistleOut's Best Consumer Coverage win in 2023.

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