K-Cup Inventor Says He’s Sorry: Here’s Why

The single-serve coffee brewing pods are immensely popular, but not with environmentalists.

K-Cup Inventor Says He’s Sorry: Here’s Why Photo (cc) by Shoshanah

Americans love their coffee. And 1 in 3 Americans love brewing their java in a Keurig K-Cup. John Sylvan is not one of them. He prefers drip coffee.

Sylvan’s preference wouldn’t be noteworthy if he wasn’t the inventor of the K-Cup.

“I don’t have [a Keurig]. They’re kind of expensive to use,” Sylvan told The Atlantic.

Sylvan, who envisioned the Keurig would solely be used in offices, sold his shares in the company in 1997 for $50,000.

Keurig’s growth has skyrocketed since then.

More than 9.8 billion K-Cups were sold in 2014, the Atlantic reports.

“According to one estimate, that’s enough cups to wrap around the globe 10.5 times if they were placed end-to-end,” WNEW reports.

This has many people, including Sylvan, concerned about the effects of Keurig’s single-use plastic pods, which are not recyclable or biodegradable.

“I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it,” Sylvan told The Atlantic.

Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. has committed to making all of its K-Cups recyclable by 2020 by replacing the cup material with polypropylene #5 plastic.

Monique Oxender, chief sustainability officer at Keurig, said all new K-Cup spin-off products since 2006 are recyclable, but there’s a catch: the K-Cup user has to disassemble each cup into its separate components (paper, plastic and metal).

“I gotta be honest with you,” Oxender said, “we’re not happy with where we are either. We have to get a solution, and we have to get it in place quickly.”

Many of Keurig’s competitors’ cups are reusable or biodegradable, “which does little to deflect the growing criticism that Keurig Green Mountain is not seriously prioritizing sustainability,” The Atlantic noted.

We have an earlier generation Keurig. We refuse to upgrade to the Keurig 2.0 because we buy San Francisco Bay coffee pods from Costco. They’re inexpensive (as far as coffee pods go) and 97 percent biodegradable, but they’re not compatible with the new Keurigs.

Do you use a Keurig? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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