The K-cup that sparks so many millions of coffee drinkers to life each morning is appealing to eco-conscious consumers — just as the market for its Cup of Joe appears to be cooling.
Keurig Green Mountain said it plans by 2020 to change the plastic composition in the billions of K-cup single-serving coffee containers it sells annually, making them more lucrative to recyclers while removing one of the nagging complaints that the little pods are piling up in landfills.
“Our goal is 100 percent Keurig K-cup pods diverted from landfills by curbside recycling,” said Monique Oxender, the coffee brewer’s chief sustainability officer. “The consumer is going to brew it, peel and empty it, and pop the pod into the recycling bin in the same behavior they would do with a yogurt cup. We want to make it a habit.”
The recycling breakthrough comes as the Keurig’s single-serve coffee machines, which helped revolutionize coffee consumption, are becoming less of a habit after years of growth.
According to analysts, growth in the K-cup market has stalled as Vermont-based Keurig loses market share. “If it is going to be easier to recycle K-cups, some consumers will care and that may or may not affect demand,” said Pablo Zuanic, an analyst with Susquehanna International Group. “I don’t think it’s going to move the needle. The bigger issue for Keurig is that there are not enough affordable Keurig machines, and so volume is not growing much.”
Keurig has been knocked for the billions of recycle-resistant K-cup pods it sells.