Since my discovery of the Keurig, I've had to do some research on coffee. After some discussion among friends about the coffee trade, I became a bit more aware of the different kinds of coffee while search for fair trade coffee. Before my husband switched over to fair trade coffee (and tea and chocolate), I bought one kind of coffee for him that was readily available at the grocery store. So, needless to say, I didn't look beyond that one can on the grocery store shelves. However, it was in getting out of my usual coffee purchasing rut that I realized the Keurig machine is becoming the norm. Everywhere I looked, I found packages of "K-Cup" coffee.
Seems that the Keurig has become a common household appliance. According to this article in the New York Times, about 4 million of these brewers were sold in the 13 week period prior to this past Christmas. In addition, one coffee company has sold more than $715 million in K-cups. Another company says it has sold over 27 billion individual K-cups since 1986. Not only does this coffee generate tremendous waste, turns out purchasing coffee in individual serving packages means paying $51 a pound for coffee. Compare this with the under $20 price tag on most high end coffee brands.
On its website, Keurig talks about environmental responsibility, trying to reduce packaging, and making it easier to recycle the cups. The fact remains, that these cups use precious petroleum in the manufacturing process and creates additional, unnecessary plastic waste. Even if the cups could be easily recycled, most never would be as the current plastic recycling rate is less than 5% of all plastics. Not a very good statistic. In their defense, Keurig does make a My K-Cup, a reusable coffee filter that can be used with regular coffee. However, it appears that most Keurig users prefer the convenience of the plastic, prepackaged K-Cups.
I need someone to explain to me how, during an economic downturn with high unemployment and stagnant wages and during a time when individuals should be extremely aware of environmental degradation, this product has come to exist. And that it has become so popular.