Coffee’s Challenge to go Green
Recyclable Single-Serving Pods
The coffee companies are abuzz with manufacturing eco-friendly single-serving convenience for its daily drinkers.
Coffee has helped keep the world going in the morning for centuries. With the emergence of the ever-popular single-serving pods such as Keurig’s K-cups, the coffee companies were presented with a new challenge to make the containers functional and recyclable. “The system has a lot of pretty demanding technical requirements in terms of being able to withstand certain amount of temperature and to have a certain kind of rigidity, and provide the right kinds of moisture barriers and oxygen barriers and the like,” said Mike Dupee, vice president of sustainability for Green Mountain. “So it isn’t the simplest challenge.”
To meet these technical demands, the coffee pods were made of a “hybrid packaging” consisting of plastic, aluminum, organic materials, and a paper filter. These are all recyclable materials, however, the pod as a whole does not make for an easy recycling solution. All of the recyclable materials must be separated prior to reaching the recycling plant, herein is where the challenge arise.
Several possible solutions have been laid out on the table from reusable pods to mail-back programs, which requires the customer to mail back the used pods to the coffee company, who will then separate the recyclable materials. Naturally, this creates more work on the coffee company’s part. Not to fret, the coffee companies’ efforts in sustainability is as strong as their boldest Italian brew. Bill VandenBygaart, vice president for development at Mother Parkers, which has the fourth-largest coffee roasting business in North America says, “our goal is zero waste to landfill and we’re getting closer.”
My greatest regards go to all the coffee companies who are stepping up to the plate to face the challenge of connecting convenience and sustainability, while keeping the same great tasting coffee all for the sake of the customer. Coffee is a staple here at Vulcan Wire, and we would like to express our understanding of the challenges to achieve sustainability. That is why our baling wire is made with integrity and is always reliable, so that the recyclers can focus on bigger matters at hand, like keeping the world going… green. And for that, we say thank you.