Keurig coffee – wonderful. The K-cup – not so much. Concern about the plastic coffee pods started almost as soon as the Keurig coffee maker came on the market. Each one is very small. But add up one household’s consumption, then another’s, in a week, a month. Doesn’t take long to have a mountain of them.
Coffee pod manufacturers responded. You can now buy many types of pods packaged various ways. They are recyclable and compostable, in part or whole. But you have to read the box, and the pods.
The plastic casing is the problem. That casing seals in the coffee, thereby keeping it fresh. Many were not made of recyclable plastic. Some still aren’t. Recycling services that I know of accept only numbers 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 plastics. So those marked No. 6, like Tim Horton’s, still go in the garbage. And pods without a number – who knows? Again, garbage.
An increasing number now are marked No. 5. So recyclable. But, despite what the box says, not with coffee grounds still in them. You have to separate the plastic from the coffee and filter bag.
How to separate coffee pods
2. Squeeze pod upside-down over compost container to loosen coffee
3. Dig your finger into pod and pull out as much coffee as you can
4. Holding pod in one hand, grab a bit of netting with thumb and forefinger of other hand and pull until it rips. Then pull all the way around until the coffee and netting are detached from the plastic pod.
5. Rinse plastic pod well and try to pull off leftover netting.
It’s not easy, but you get better at it with practice. And sometimes, when you see you’ve grabbed a non-recyclable pod, you say a fervent hallelujah as you toss it! I found a tool that separates the pods (see Amazon box below). Might be easier on the fingers.
These are much easier to deal with. A ring and filter made of plant-based materials and paper lid, the whole thing will compost as is – eventually. But they still come to you in packaging. Either individually wrapped in plastic or grouped in a foil bag. The foil bags say “rinse and reuse”. But I haven’t figured out anything to reuse even one for.
My preferred choice so far is the individually wrapped compostable pod. Jumping Bean, from Newfoundland (available on Amazon.ca and excellent coffee!) The plastic wrapper probably isn’t recyclable but at least it’s little.
Obviously, reusable is best. Soon after buying our Keurig, and realizing the amount of garbage produced by the pods, I bought a refillable pod. What a misery! You must replace one whole mechanism with the other, so it’s not easy to switch back and forth. My refillable one went to the back of the drawer where it sits in silent witness to the traffic in easier, but wasteful, coffee pods.
There are refillable pods available that look easier to use (see Amazon link below). Maybe I’ll try again!