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Because You Asked

Can I Recycle K-Cups?

By Recyclebank |

Single-serve coffee may be convenient, but it has catching up to do in order to reduce waste.

Dear Recyclebank,

Can you recycle the K-Cup plastic pods? I remove the grounds for the garden but would like to recycle the pod. Any input?

-Effie F.

K-Cups, Keurig’s single-serving coffee pods, are made of multiple components, including an aluminum foil lid, a fiber/plastic blend filter, and a #7 plastic exterior. As with other mixed-material items, the materials would need to be separated before they could be processed. Keurig acknowledges that K-Cups are not recyclable at this time but notes that they intend for them to be fully recyclable by 2020.

In the meantime, Keurig also produces Vue cups made of #5 plastic, which is more widely accepted by recycling programs. Vue cups are also accepted by Preserve’s Gimme 5 mail-in recycling program, and shipping is free. However, Vue cups may not be used by K-Cup brewers, and they may not yet be compatible with newer Keurig machines.

Until recyclable K-Cups are developed, and if you are a K-Cup superuser, consider using a Recycle A Cup cutter to separate K-Cups for recycling. Recycle A Cup also accepts the plastic shells for recycling if your local recycling facility doesn’t accept #7 plastic. Shipping details can be found on their website.

When in doubt, try repurposing the plastic cups for storage or crafts. You can find fun ideas for your leftover K-Cups here.

Keurig Green Mountain
New York Times
Mother Jones

Do you drink single-serve coffee? How do you handle your used K-Cups? Let us know in the comments.

Share with Your Friends & Family
  • Duane W. 3 years ago
    Target now sells recyclable K-Cups. It's a #6 plastic. All one has to do is remove the lining that contains the coffee (I dump the grounds on my garden), rinse the cup, and place in the recycling bin! Both Target's Market Pantry and Archer Farms brands promote these kind of cups.
  • Bj S. 4 years ago
    I take the cover off, remove the filter material and turn the plastic pod part into a seed starter for my garden plants and vegtables
  • tommy b. 4 years ago
  • erica m. 4 years ago
    To reduce shipping impact, how about buying locally (American) grown coffee? It grows in Puerto Rico, where else?
    • Duane W. 3 years ago
      Other than PR, Hawaii has some coffee plantations who distributate to the West Coast. Guam has some, too, but I understand it's mainly for local consumption.
  • Dan K. 4 years ago
    I cut the tops out of my KCups and put them into the aluminum recycling and scrape the used grounds into my compost. I only need to toss the plastic part. I know this isn't perfect, but it beats wasting brewed coffee. I'm never sure if I will drink one of four cups of coffee.
    • joanna j. 4 years ago
      I like that. By at least recycling some of the product, you have reduced the amount that will wind up in a landfill.
      I am a big fan of "start small, start anywhere" in terms of reducing our carbon footprint.
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