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What’s Wrong With Plastic K-Cups?

The cute little cups contain dirty little secrets.

Remember the excitement surrounding the debut of Keurig single-serving cups? So cute, so convenient—the quick, fun way to make coffee and cater to everyone’s particular tastes when entertaining. Hazelnut? Sure! Decaf? Here you go! Whether preparing coffee for yourself or for a crowd, the effort seemed minimal and even fun.

However, the brew-ha-ha over the single-serving Keurig and its European cousin, Nespresso, has faded quickly, as environmental and health concerns have begun to outweigh their benefits.

The health of our planet

According to the National Coffee Association, more than a quarter of U.S. households own a pod-based coffee machine, adding up to a lot of pods. Worldwide, coffee pod usage has created a jaw-dropping number of discarded pods per year. One notorious estimate from 2013 claims that the number of plastic pods sold that year—8.5 billion--could circle the Earth 10.5 times. Worse, plastic pod production has only increased since then.

But aren’t they recyclable?

Yes and no. The combination of aluminum and plastic that comprises the cups complicates the recycling process, making them more likely to end up in a landfill. And, the onus is on consumers to separate the aluminum from the plastic, and then find the proper recycling facility that accepts this type of plastic. Moreover, it is non-biodegradable.

The pods so alarmed officials in the German city of Hamburg, which has adopted a series of eco-friendly measures, that their use has been banned from government buildings. This is ironic considering that one of the creators of the K-cup, John Sylvan, said it was designed specifically for use in offices, not for home use. Horrified by their environmental impact, he’s been quoted as saying, “I don’t know why people have them in their house.’ 

The health of our bodies

“BPA-free” has become the key phrase we look for when purchasing water bottles, utensils, baby bottles, and other plastic items, and while K-cups fall into that category, this may not be enough to guarantee an absence of adverse effects on our health.

While free of BPA, K-cup plastic is plastic #7—essentially an “other” plastic, its components that Keurig won’t discuss or reveal because it is “proprietary." And may or may not contain polystyrene, which contains a possible carcinogen. Furthermore, even though plastic is BPA-free, passing a hot liquid through it may still release harmful toxins that can contribute to hormone disruption in our bodies.

“Keurig would not tell me what types of plastic go into its #7 blend, saying the information was proprietary, nor would it confirm or deny the presence of polystyrene in the mix,” writes a reporter from Mother Jones.

But I have a coffee pod dispenser. What do I do now?

Consider Tayst coffee pods. Compatible with either Keurig or Nespresso coffee pod makers, you choose which pod is for you and which superior variety of Tayst you’d prefer: Bold, Medium, Vanilla, or Decaf. 

Tayst pods are plastic-free, 100 percent compostable, and created with biomaterials like compressed cornstarch. The mesh is made from renewable bio-resins. Even the ink printed on the lid is water-based and fully compostable! 

We have been consistently named as a top choice for eco-friendly coffee pods. Made with Rainforest Alliance-certified beans, the coffee’s quality is superior while farmers are paid fair wages and the environment remains protected.

Coffee Urban chose our decaf blend as their number-one pod  and EcoFreek listed us at number two.

You choose the pod that is compatible with your coffee maker—Keurig or Nespresso—and then pick which kind of coffee you’d like to drink and have it delivered to your home. It’s that easy!