Collaborating for change

We’re working with recycling partners, communities, and coffee-lovers to not only create a better K-Cup® pod, but also establish better ways for all communities to recycle.

Doing better together

Designing and producing a recyclable K-Cup® pod is just part of the equation. We also want to be sure recyclers can easily process them, so our pods can get a new life as kitchenware, playground equipment, or even your curbside recycling bin.

Our groundbreaking work with material recovery facilities (MRFs) helps us follow our recyclable K-Cup® pods through the entire facility’s stream with 100% traceability. This show us when, how, and why our pods make it through the stream, which now impacts not only how we work with MRFs, but how other companies develop plastic products like ours.

Learn about our MRF testing journey.

What we've seen is a commitment to the kind of testing you don't typically see from brands. It's really exciting for us to be that platform, and help a producer like Keurig make that next step into a more recyclable package.

Allen Langdon

Managing Director, Recycle BC

Companies like Keurig and Emterra, along with the local municipalities, can create new solutions that improve not just the existing recovery infrastructure, but create new thresholds of what recycling can be.

Paulina Leung

VP of Corporate Strategy and Business Development, Emterra Group

We all know greenhouse gases are a significant issue, and that we need to collectively keep plastics out of our oceans. Working with companies like Keurig and increasing the recovery and recycling of packaging at a large scale is a little part we can play in doing what is right.

Nevil Davies

Director of Special Projects and Process Improvement, Emterra Group

Designing for recyclability is possible. When there’s a will, there's a way, and what I like about Keurig is that I feel there’s a will to go forward.

Tony Moucachen

CEO, Merlin Plastics

The right partners make all the difference

There’s nothing we can’t accomplish when we put our heads (and hearts) together. By working with partners who are just as passionate about recycling as we are, there’s a groundswell of change happening throughout North America resulting in better community recycling programs, improved recycling methods, and more products made from recycled material.

We’re investing $5 million over five years to help expand recycling programs in communities across the U.S.

The partnership is working directly with communities across the country to overcome barriers to gold-standard recycling through operational, educational, and fiscal support.


This group of recyclers, brand owners, and plastics converters is helping us understand issues and work toward solutions related to plastics recycling.


We’re happy to support this organization’s efforts to create a cleaner, greener, more beautiful America through recycling education.


Their support has helped us integrate sustainable packaging even beyond the recyclable K-Cup® pod. And we’re proud to have won their 2017 Innovator Award for our MRF protocol.

Go with the flow

K-Cup® pods and other recyclables are placed in curbside bins for neighborhood pickup.

1.

Outward and onward K-Cup® pods and other recyclables are placed in curbside bins for neighborhood pickup.

2.

Getting sorted They make their way to material recovery facilities, where they’re sorted by type of material.

3.

All packed up Items made of the same material are bundled in bales for transportation.

4.

Breaking it down The bales travel to companies that break them down into flakes or pellets for recycling.

5.

Hello, products Recycled materials are transformed into all sorts of useful products.

The little K-Cup® pod that could

Keurig Green Mountain’s first tests of the recyclable K-Cup® pod with Municipal Recycling Facilities

Ignoring the naysayers

For more than a decade, we heard that K-Cup® pods were too small to reliably make it through the process of being separated and prepared for recycling. And if they couldn’t be sorted, they couldn’t be recycled.

10

uniquely different MRFs have tested our K-Cup® pods in the U.S. and Canada.

Taking our pods to task

So we set out to understand the recycling process for ourselves, starting by running trials at material recovery facilities (MRFs). In a typical scenario, brewed K-Cup® pods arrive at MRFs mixed in with other recyclables — paper, plastic, and metal — that people put in their single-stream recycling bins. The MRFs then sort through the items and separate them into bundles of materials that would then get turned into new products.

Tiny and mighty

Our first rounds of tests, conducted in 2015 at three large U.S. MRFs, proved that our pods aren’t too small after all. We also gained valuable insights that helped us optimize the design of our recyclable K-Cup® pods.

10

uniquely different MRFs have tested our K-Cup® pods in the U.S. and Canada.

90%

of recyclable Keurig® K-Cup® pods completed the journey through the sorting process.

Keep on testing

In 2016 and early 2017, we followed up with three more tests in the U.S. and three in Canada. We used what is now an innovative, award-winning testing methodology to gain greater visibility into how items flow through MRFs — and evaluate how successfully they’re sorted and captured for further processing and recycling.

Our approach involved tagging test pods with radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips that provide 100% traceability during the sorting process with minimal disruption, allowing the MRFs to operate under normal conditions during the testing. In the end, it allowed us to track the actual movement of recyclables through MRFs rather than relying on estimates from manual sorting.

90%

of recyclable Keurig® K-Cup® pods completed the journey through the sorting process.

Based on our testing, Keurig’s polypropylene K-Cup® pod and filter with removable lid is recyclable and recoverable, and is a welcome addition to the polypropylene recycling stream.

Scott Saunders

General Manager, KW Plastics

Keurig Green Mountain + Recycling and Recovery Facilities:
Learning together